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Another important point is to properly define internal review personnel at an early stage. "Each of these individuals must also be addressed to ensure buy-in from all involved," said Peldzus. "Your team should include legal and purchasing people as well as a C-level exec if possible."
It is advisable to have one primary contact at each responding vendor and also to arrange vendor pre-meetings to ensure they understand the objectives and anticipated timeline. Further, you have to set the communication rules, such as email only, phone only, etc. These calls or emails should be directed at one person only within the company to avoid confusion, or vendor attempts to call in old favors. You have to be aware of the political climate within the organization, which may favor one vendor over another for various reasons. Such relationships are not always in the best interests of your company objectives.
When dealing with the response format, it is probably best to stick to line item pricing, and to demand short concise answers to key questions. Peldzus recommends specific questions such as, "Does your product support CIM/SMI-S?" rather than vague statements such as, "Discuss how your product conforms to management standards."
You must also make it very clear what features and functions are considered optional and which are considered essential.
Prior to receiving responses, you should be ready with a pre-set rating/scoring system. Each question should be weighted in terms of importance so that it is easy to tally up the scores and compare products objectively. And don't forget to check and grade references, gravitating toward companies similar to yours if at all possible.
Don't be afraid to ask touchy questions about company financials, pending litigation, recent layoffs, and executive turnover.
"Such questions are even more important for start-ups," said Peldzus.
He cautions, however, to be wary of vendor roadmaps. Why? In reality, this is a vague concept of where the vendor thinks it is going, and things can change rapidly and dictate a completely new direction.
Where the process has proven difficult to manage internally, it may be wise to bring in a third party to administer the RPF process and negotiate the best deals.
"A third party can provide a layer of isolation between the vendor and the customer," concludes Peldzus. "For the largest purchases, C-level executives often dictate some type of independent auditor/expert in the process."
Article courtesy of Enterprise IT Planet