When purchasing software and services, it’s easy to overlook what’s included in the services. Because, well, the software is so fancy. But if you are about to purchase software and services together, these five questions will help you get a handle on what you can expect going into the implementation.
1. Do you have a methodology that you adhere to (and can I see it)?
If the vendor has done this before, they should have a methodology. This question is intended to get to the vendor’s approach to the implementation. If the vendor can walk you through a clear methodology map, you should feel like you aren’t the first customer to do this. Which is good.
2. What level of effort can I expect from my team?
The fact is you will have to have a team, but you should know going in what level of effort will be required from each member. Once you see the vendor’s methodology, dig to find out what level of effort can be expected during each stage gate or phase of the project. And don’t settle for vague answers, as you will need to find out whether your team needs to be pulled off of other projects to make this effort or whether they can simply help implement in the margins of their day. Lastly, you’ll want to know if your team needs specific skills or experience to succeed in their role.
3. What level of effort can I expect from your team?
Once you know the amount of effort your team is expected to perform and when – you should know the same for the vendor. This will help you understand what to expect and when for both teams. Trust them to do their work, but you’ll need to know what they are doing to verify it.
4. What do I need to do to ensure success?
This question is a softball question but don’t be fooled. If you get a softball answer – call Bullshit. There are things you can do to ensure success. 1) Ensure your team knows the project’s goals, 2) Make sure your team takes training and remains engaged, 3) If a critical member of the team leaves, find a quick replacement, etc…
Hearing them clearly state what you can do to prepare for their Services should fill you with confidence. If they are vague in their answers, walk away.
5. What do other customers say are challenges they’ve had with Services?
I love this question. This gets to the heart of the Vendor’s experience. If they are comfortable and genuinely transparent, they’ll provide you with a list of challenges you can expect. Failures DO happen, and vendors that can acknowledge them and provide solutions to them should earn your trust much faster.
Note: Originally posted March 21, 2018