The selection process of any product or service can become a daunting task. Naturally, you want to be satisfied that your choice is not going to come back and ‘bite you’ in the months and years to come. There is too much at stake. Many owner-managed SME businesses simply do not have the resources (whether it be in terms of time or cash) to simply ‘do it again’. Therefore, choosing a credible and experienced supplier to get it right first-time is a must.
‘Due Diligence’ is a phrase often banded around in legal contracts but it is this simple period of investigation that will wheedle out the good from the bad (and, hopefully, the ugly) in your pot of prospective suppliers. As part of this process you will go through the usual pre-sale discussions, product demonstrations, workshops, etc. However, why not dig a little deeper?
A significant amount of valuable information can be gleaned from customer references – ask for five or more and not the token (often pre-warned) two. Check out your prospective suppliers’ capabilities and support services – if you call their support line, how long does it take to answer? Who is the person that answers and what are their credentials?
Another obvious check, but one that often does not get routinely carried out is a financial or credit reference. If you are about to commit to a significant amount of expenditure surely your chosen supplier will have a credible balance sheet, with a value greater than your proposed investment?
Longevity of trading is another indicator that should score high in your selection process, particularly within the IT industry where technology is fast paced and companies come and go faster than most. A supplier like dcs with 20+ years of continuous successful trading should offer a little comfort. A supplier that can boast client relationships that go back more than 20+ years can offer a lot of comfort.