When an organisation searches the market for a new ITSM solution, or any new solution for that matter, whether they get what they really want depends on a number of key factors. The technical functionality of a solution to meet business requirements is one thing, but what I believe to be key is the trust a customer develops with its chosen vendor.Superficially, this is down to the relationships built during the sales process; however, the strength of the relationship comes months and years after a contract is signed, and experience shows reality is far from expectation.
The process of selecting a new solution usually begins with a business case to increase productivity and business benefit. This is typically followed by a requirements scoping exercise, resulting in a RFP (Request for Proposal) to identify and shortlist potential vendors.
There are two key elements that play a significant factor in influencing the final outcome: 1) The RFP; 2) People.
The RFP has been developed to serve as the de facto tool for aiding product selection, but increasingly, industry analysts and consultants now question whether, in today’s world, it is fit for purpose:
- RFPs are time consuming and resource intensive.
- RFPs do not really help outcomes as the results are often unintended or undesirable.
- In a mature market, RFPs rarely help to differentiate between solutions.
Now, forgive me if this comes as a shock, but not all solution provider representatives are completely honest with the information they provide. Also, not all customers involved in the selection process are objective enough, resulting in them being misdirected or mislead in regards to their ultimate choice.
There is an old saying, ‘people buy from people,’ and I genuinely believe this to be true. However, to avoid future issues, a customer needs to get behind the sales and marketing veneer to determine the true culture of the solution provider and its genuine intent to create a long term partnership…not just secure a short term sales win.
Ultimately, to ensure the customer gets what it really wants, both parties must go beyond the perceived functional capabilities and price. If a proper assessment of functionality against use case scenarios and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) during a three-to-five- year period is not undertaken, the chances of the customer really getting what it wants will become more of a lottery.
To be successful for the long term, it takes a lot of effort and openness from both parties.