In the previous post, I discussed some key considerations you should look at when selecting a new software vendor. Most importantly is a vendor that will care for you long-term – helping as your needs and industry changes. You will often hear me call this a “partnership” because I whole heartedly believe that a successful client works together with the vendor in “partnership” towards successfully using their solution. As we all know – a successful partnership is a two way relationship, both sides maintaining good communication, sharing of important news that affect the solution and knowledge sharing as well.
In this post, I’ll discuss in more detail the first 4 considerations:
Do they provide a dedicated Account Representative?
The key to successful and long-term satisfaction with your solution is the on-going partnership with your vendor. I hear all too often in the industry how clients don’t speak to their vendors except maybe once a year when they receive an invoice for their annual maintenance plan. You should be able to consider your solution provider as your partner in terms of meeting your solution needs. Having a dedicated representative who knows your industry and builds relationships with key people within your organization means good ongoing communication occurs. Information of importance about your product, key considerations in terms of new releases and features should be shared and well known and you should be aware of important trends or changes happening with your solution. Your representative should understand your budgeting cycle and process in order to provide information pertaining to your system for these needs. Before you buy, ask your potential vendor who this person would be and be careful to understand their role and how easy it will be to reach and work with them. If logistically possible you may want to meet them ahead of time.
Do they provide a variety of options for Training?
With today’s ease and amount of technology the benefits gained by on-line videos, eLearning, webinars and even blogs is amazing. You can learn at your own pace, read articles and communications that are sector specific, and with eLearning you can start and stop courses as needed. Don’t forget options for professional training and consulting as well. A professional who is certified with the product you are using and certified with appropriate education (i.e. they are also a CPA) can come on site or train using remote technology provides very specific and more business process oriented training that can be very beneficial to your team. Ensure that your vendor offers a variety of these training options so you stay informed and educated. Don’t forget that keeping you and your staff familiar with and adequately trained on the solution is just as much your responsibility as it is your vendors. Regularly check your vendor’s website or client portal for updates and happy reading!
Do they have an Annual Conference?
Not all solution providers offer an annual conference, but if you can find a vendor that does, this should be considered a premium event that you will attend to continue to learn the solution and network with other organizations, as well as with your vendor’s team. Many conferences offer insightful keynotes, training sessions, support workshops and even marketing sessions to keep you informed of what’s next or new in the product. Attending these types of events is usually the most time and cost effective means of learning and working with your solution.
Do they provide document Handovers?
A hand-off is a means for key staff of both the client and the vendor to communicate to each other any information of significance. It is through these that you highlight critical information that everyone should be aware of so that no surprises occur and there are no gaps in productivity. As a minimum, there should be a sales handover to the client services team who will implement the new solution and then a client services handover to the support team who will ensure your day to day questions are addressed once you go-live. Other handovers that should occur include formal “Project Closure” and being introduced to a “Client Success Team Member”. For the duration of your partnership with your vendor, handovers should occur as new projects, upgrades or added functionality occurs.