Now that you have a decent understanding of a particular technology marketplace, it's time to identify those suppliers that may potentially meet your needs. Initially, you’ll want to explore as wide a set of potential suppliers as possible, to give yourself the best odds of finding an optimal solution. This is a process of getting to a “long list” first, and then a “short list” of vendors to approach.
Use Scenario Analysis to Get to Short Lists
Explicitly or not, different tools target different use cases. Any technology platform or product “wants” to behave a certain way. Vendors will boast about omnibus capabilities, but baked in underneath is a vision about how a particular subset of problems gets solved. This reflects a kind of imprinting: the tool’s initial incubators or flagship customers wanted it for those specific use cases. The product might have broadened its scope as it matured, but typically the initial roots remain visible.
The key for you is to match a vendor’s sweet-spot use cases with your specific needs, and the way to do this is via scenario analysis. Think of a scenario as a high-level business use case, like “peer-based customer support” for customer relationship management systems, or “short-form video” for digital asset management technology. Note that these are business uses, and not technical attributes.
How a product's fundamental scenario fit aligns with your intended use cases should be the primary filter when determining your initial short list of vendors to evaluate. Understanding the business scenarios that fit better or worse for the different packages enables you to see deeper into their relative strengths and weaknesses for your particular circumstances.
To see this in action, check out RSG's RealQuadrant decision-support app.
Vendor Filtering Tips
- The ideal long list is between 8 to 12 vendors; use basic filtering criteria (e.g., geographic footprint) to develop this list.
- The ideal short list is between 6 to 8 vendors; focus on your use cases to filter this list.
- Don't lock into a single "tier" of vendors (e.g., high-end, lower-end) at this point.
- Remember that typically only 33-66% of your short list vendors will respond to your RFP, so cast a wide net.
- To that end, don't just focus on recognizable, "name" vendors.
- Do not place a vendor on your list if you are certain they would not constitute a good fit — it's a waste of your time and the vendors' time.
To speed up and reduce risks in your selection process, contact RSG to see how we can make your team more successful.
Other Posts in This Series
- Tip #1: Articulate a Solid Business Case
- Tip #2: Build the Right Team
- Tip #3: Setting the Right Business Foundations
- Tip #4: Capture Requirements That Don't Suck
- Tip #5: User Stories Are Everything
- Tip #6: Ask Questions That Really Matter
- Tip #7: Find More Than the Usual Suspects
- Tip #8: Target the Right Suppliers
- Tip #9: How to Engage Vendors
- Tip #10: Create RFPs That Actually Work
- Tip #11: Keeping It Real with Bidders