Selecting a supplier – natural selection | 3037

Selecting suppliers: there’s no silver bullet that guarantees success. But equally, there are no Dark Arts, either. But taking a common-sense approach will reduce the risk significantly.

  1. Setting up
  2. Seeking out
  3. Weighing up
  4. Working with
  5. Paying for

Here are my opinions on the important factors to take into account while choosing providers.

getting ready

Make sure your choosing process is off to the appropriate start, I’d advise first. I frequently observe CIOs and Programme Leads choose the toolkit before they have agreed on the strategy in IT and digital transformation. The industry has an odd propensity to determine it requires Platform X, System Y, or Solution Z prior to having

fully described the issue and/or

developed a transformational plan

Please don’t feel that you must be able to define the approach all by yourself if you are new to transformation. Excellent transformation strategy experts are available that can help you. Their knowledge offers a significant chance to de-risk your programme: and refuses inevitably involve a substantial expenditure. Advice today doesn’t even come from people who have a financial stake in getting you to purchase particular items.

You will have a clear knowledge of the specific issue(s) you are trying to solve as well as a generalised strategy if your setting-up process is effective.

looking for

For purchasing [insert name of major global IT supplier here], nobody has ever been fired.

It is often believed in the IT industry that buying well-known brands is safer. I’m wearing Oakley glasses right now, so that must be a strategy that is widely adopted. However, I believe we need to be a little more subtle than that.

As was said previously, guidance may be your first buy. I believe that outside of the main brands, you may have substantial skills in this area. There is an expanding army of highly skilled and qualified consultants, strategists, and counsellors for digital transformation. And a sizable fraction of them do not work for the IT consultancy’s “usual suspects.”

This might be done in an imaginative and novel way, as well as economically and pragmatically. Choose individuals that have knowledge of the problems you face, regardless of their brand.

adding up

Having said that, I’d advise taking a somewhat different strategy when it comes to picking your solutions and services once you’ve chosen your strategic advisors: concentrate on bringing the risk down even more. Again, though, it doesn’t entail constantly purchasing the most well-known brands. You’re seeking the perfect fit, say it again.

It typically happens that a select few vendors and their bids surge to the top of the list after the initial Dance-Off. These frequently have varying intensities. How can you compare apples and oranges if you’ve done your homework and everyone on your short list can verifiably deliver what they promise?

There are three perspectives to consider:

Whose USP or defining quality matches the best? Which vendor’s area of expertise most closely matches your major issue? They are most likely to deliver the most because of their knowledge.

Consider the very minimum of competence as a given; otherwise, they wouldn’t be in business. But use caution when it comes to capacity, especially if you see the USP you require. in a more compact supplier.
Beware: there are now some serious worldwide skills shortages in some IT fields.

Managing disappointment is possible. Don’t give in to the person on your selection panel who yells the loudest.

engaging in

Culture affects us. You require vendors who can work inside your cultural framework, and vice versa. Choose a provider whose culture matches your own unless you’re doing a campaign of radical cultural change where you’re employing a supplier to help change minds (and that’s a WHOLE other matter). Your team will perform better and build trust faster with individuals whose values they share, whether they are enthusiastic or cautious, risk-averse or unconventional. Just the same attitude, not necessarily the same ideas, will be shared by everybody.

But don’t mix up culture and friendliness. It doesn’t always follow that someone is a cultural match just because you personally like them or a sub-team shares their passion in snowboarding or 1950s French cinema noir.

This brings up the subject of disappointment once more. Typically, I will consult with internal customers or transformation sub-teams while evaluating the different proposals from the providers on my shortlist. Colleagues are incredibly helpful in this situation since subject matter experts may identify flaws or exaggerated claims in their field, which helps to weed out the weaker bids. However, it occasionally happens that a certain sub-team favours a strange provider. If that occurs, you will need to take careful control of how that team and the chosen supplier establish a relationship. They were unwilling.

It’s always worthwhile to devote that time and attention at the beginning of the programme.

Investing in

the purchase of Think about paying for it as soon as you are done Once the aforementioned requirements have been met, determine the supplier’s price. Again, we’re searching for the edge, not the essentials, so nobody should be on your short list unless you can afford their package.

Look over the offer carefully and question anything that appears to be a hidden pricing trap or “not included” things. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure your discovery, investigation, analysis, and planning have been thorough. If possible, do these things with an experienced partner, as I suggested previously. Escalating expenses are a significant cause of stress throughout transformation and are handled, negotiated, and sold to the board.

Although it’s true that no one has ever lost their job for purchasing a premium brand, plenty have for overspending.


Internationally renowned as a pioneer in global technology, Mark Aikman. He focuses in executing IT/digital company transformation and divestiture, typically in challenging situations with a high degree of risk. BP, Upfield, and Unilever have all been some of his clients.

In addition to being the author of Uncommon Sense: Alternative Thinking on Digital Transformation, Mark is well-known for his work as an industry speaker and pundit. More of his writings may be found here.

Leave a Comment