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Technology buyers usually ask for references, but actually check them only rarely, missing an opportunity to enrich their understanding and evaluation of potential solutions and suppliers.
To make reference checks and site visits productive, customers should overcome their reticence and take a methodical approach. To be sure, vendor and integrator reference contacts may be reluctant to share everything they know, and initially may paint a very positive portrait of their experience with the solution. However, a savvy reference checker will employ a variety of different approaches and questions to obtain a richer and more transparent view of potential technology suppliers. Moreover, reference checking is invaluable when it uncovers broader issues of supplier "fit" for you, and transcends simple lists of strengths and weaknesses.
This paper itemizes several potential avenues of inquiry and includes twenty-five specific questions to ask.