Friday, 22 May 2015

Hungry Like The Wolf

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here

How do you like your suppliers? Cheap, mean, fluffy, friendly, reasonable, accommodating? I like the latter, and I am often asked by clients, "why on earth aren't these suppliers, hungry for my business"? we are looking to spend £450K around here.

The worst ones seem to be your current incumbent's too. Having been a supplier, I know how much effort goes into welcoming a new customer on to the star chamber, which is your 'Sales Ledger'. It's no exaggeration it takes twenty times more effort to snag a new customer, than keep an existing one. When you factor in OJEU within the public (or semi-public which is social housing) sector, you can probably ramp that up to fifty times.

Current incumbents' seem complacent when proposing additional modules or new solutions. They are rarely exciting, compared with the 'new kids on the block', you get in to demo as well. Now this can lead to some dreadful mistakes. I know many clients impressed & sold on the new kids and live for the following five years, suffering from that decision.

For ICT, the five or more years of a contract, leads easily to complacency. 'Evergreen' contracts almost.

Mediocre performance must be paid attention to and carefully documented. Out in the commercial world, some organisations use Six Sigma and other formal tools to monitor quality, providing evidence.

Without nipping this stuff in the bud, it will escalate very quickly.

Some things to watch out for are:
  1. Sluggish helpdesk. Are contract SLAs being met to a reasonable level?
  2. Are your users grumbling, is efficiency suffering?
  3. Decrease in innovation. Is the solution moving forward and meeting roadmap promises? Is the latest technology being used and supported?
  4. Is there evidence your supplier is investing seriously in R&D, or do they expect you to design their products? If the 'New Kids' are providing functionality off-the-shelf, why should you be waiting 9+ months for your supplier to get around to adding those tweaks in.
  5. Are account management visits occurring on a regular basis, as originally agreed. How knowledgeable is your account manager? Does she or he have most of the answers straight away, or need to 'come back to you on that one', most of the time. 
  6. Are regular user groups going ahead, or are many cancelled? Are they forums for user discussion and taking the product forward, or just a sales opportunity for your supplier?
  7. How are the supplier developing internally? Are they taking on board modern management techniques and hitting new recognised quality standards?
Remember, it's always cheaper and easier to solve a problem with an existing supplier, than start all over again. Pay attention to the warning signs, but if its not coming right, it may be time to call in the new kids.

Related Post: Supplier Contracts, how sweet are yours?


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

Duran Duran - Hungry Like The WolfDuran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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