How to Know If Your IT Vendor Is Right for You

Information technology is more vital to smooth, efficient business practices than ever before, and it’s also one of the most commonly outsourced business processes. Unfortunately, finding the right IT vendor can be a real challenge. Many companies hire an outside firm to handle their IT processes and then take them for granted, assuming that, as long as they have someone covering the basics, IT can be left to handle itself. But the gap between good and bad IT vendors is significant, and knowing what to look for can make a world of difference. 

What Makes an IT Vendor a Good Choice?

Choosing the right vendor for your company’s IT needs is a complex process. After all, working with the right strategic partners has a notable impact on the longevity and ultimate success of an organization. There are multiple factors that contribute to a vendor’s suitability, and choosing well is critical. So to select your ideal IT vendor, where should you begin?

When looking for excellence in a market flooded with mediocrity, you first need to know what to look for. Impactful aspects tend to fall into two general categories: technical and organizational. 

Technical Considerations

One of the most basic factors that mark high-quality IT vendors is knowledge. While it may seem obvious that all vendors are knowledgeable, it’s worth recognizing companies that offer genuine expertise rather than simply providing manpower to cover basic needs. Similarly, worthy IT companies are constantly adapting and upgrading their systems to ensure that their services are up-to-date. Some companies may stick to their “tried-and-true” methods, but in the fast-paced world of information technology, staying current is essential. Not only does this impact operational efficiency, but the risk of compromised data security increases exponentially if vendors are using older, more vulnerable systems.

Organizational Considerations

On the organizational side of things, one of the most central concerns for many companies is cost. While finding the right vendor for your budget is certainly crucial, many businesses overlook the “real” cost of the vendors they work with. Real cost includes the stated up-front price of a system or service subscription, but other costs, like implementation, training, configuration, and any other “add-ons” also need to be factored in when comparing vendor fees. 

Other cornerstone organizational values that separate great IT service providers from the mediocre include communication and accountability. While some companies may boast impressive technical backgrounds and highly specialized software, responsiveness and a consistent flow of clear data allow you to understand what you’re paying for and make the most of your IT strategy. 

And these considerations don’t just apply when first choosing a partner — the same criteria need to be consistently applied when reviewing your current vendors. This ensures that you continue to get the value you expect from the third parties you work with. 

The Pros and Cons of Sticking with What You Know

These technical and organizational standards may be relatively easy to take onboard when choosing vendors, but it can often seem more difficult than it’s worth to enact change in established partnerships. When a basically functional system is already in place, why rock the boat? While this urge can sometimes be attributed to simple complacency, there are often many other valid considerations at play. 

For one, the cost in both funds and time to install and implement a new system can be considerable. While this can be worth it in certain cases, sometimes, the potential gains are marginal and the price of change is more difficult to bear. Because even if the new system saves money, it can take a long time to pay for itself. 

Another legitimate consideration is the nature of your relationship with your current vendor. Business relationships between companies and third-party providers can have an extended history, and personal connections can play a significant role in the choice to stick with the people who know you. From a strictly pragmatic standpoint, longstanding relationships with vendors can also yield meaningful discounts or even allow your company to utilize grandfathered-in rates or services. So when considering the move to new vendors, it helps to evaluate whether the change is worthwhile on both a financial and practical level.

Getting the Most Out of Your Current Vendors

While all of the considerations we mentioned above can make changing vendors seem unappealing, that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with your current service. Providers are usually content to maintain the status quo (or upsell you on new services), but with the right approach, you may be able to get more from a vendor you already use without shelling out for a new program or service subscription.

Having a strong understanding of the IT market and what your company should expect is a real advantage, but in most cases, companies that outsource their IT departments may not have this expertise available in-house. Fortunately, you can still benefit hugely from working with an experienced vendor management consultant. An expert in the field of data and information technology can help you work with your current vendors to ensure that you’re getting the best possible service across the board.

Changing IT Vendors

Even with the potential for upgrading your current system, sometimes, the truth is that you may not be partnered with the best vendor for you. If the level of service or price available from your current provider is not sufficient, the next step is to explore new companies. 

Changing IT vendors after years of using the same system can be quite the undertaking, requiring in-depth research and meticulous interviewing. Here, working with a consultant can be invaluable. Knowing where to look, who to speak to, and what questions to ask are all benefits that can come from partnering with an expert IT management consultant. 

Professional IT Vendor Management

Getting the most from your IT vendor can be challenging, especially if you want to keep your partnerships competitive and implement regular service audits. But vendor management professionals can help streamline everything from facilitating and optimizing your current third-party relationships to seeking out valuable new partners.
Populus Technology has over 25 years of experience providing digital solutions, including vendor management. We help support your growth by directing your team to the best IT vendors in the industry. We also assist organizations in updating and automating their business processes, even creating custom software solutions for unique workflows. Whether you need help managing vendors or transforming your own IT processes, Populus has the solutions you need. Get in touch with our team today to learn more.

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