Selecting a Vendor

Look Beyond the Vendor’s Proposal and Product Demo


It is ironic that the software industry that serves the North American government regulatory sector is, itself, unregulated. Therefore, we strongly encourage our prospective clients to adopt a “buyer beware” mentality as they evaluate vendors and potential software solutions. Further, in this era of diminishing capital budget cycles and shrinking budgets, your chosen technology solution – and, therefore, your relationship with the selected vendor – will likely need to last at least 10 to 15 years! You owe it to yourself and your organization to consider wisely who you are going to forge this relationship with.


Computronix strongly encourages an agency to look beyond a vendor’s proposal and product demonstration in order to investigate further. We advise agencies to provide significant weighting to such criteria as the vendor’s project track record, client references, and financial stability as these factors tend to be the strongest predictors of project success. Gain as much information as you can about the selected vendor and their technology solution to determine the overall likelihood not only of initial project success, but of a positive and enjoyable, long-term “win-win” relationship with the vendor.


Proven Tips for Effective Independent Evaluation of a Vendor


There are a number of tools available to you to help you independently assess a vendor, including the following:


  • Internet searches: Websites such as Dun & Bradstreet and Glassdoor can offer valuable insights into a company’s overall health. Internet searches can reveal information about legal actions, lawsuits against a vendor. Internet searches can help you to identify users of the vendor’s software who were not listed in the Client References section of their proposal.

  • Site visits: A site visit to a vendor client site (or multiple sites, if you can afford it) is a great way to speak frankly and openly with other customers directly, and see a production version of the vendor’s software in action for yourself.

  • Attendance at vendor’s annual user conference: If your RFP procurement is timed such that it coincides with the vendor’s annual user conference, you may ask the vendor if you can attend the conference as part of your evaluation process. User conferences offer another great way to meet other customers directly and to get a sense of overall customer satisfaction with the vendor.


NEXT WEEK: Further vendor evaluation methods and resources.