With the volume of online information available to us today it is easy to identify vendors to include in RFIs and RFPs.
Vendors that have consistently performed well in analyst’s research, are well respected in the market and have slick websites with marchitecture that appears to address your every whim.
You likely do 70% of the research and know a fair bit about them before they even get in the door.
Once you have identified the group you want vendors are usually keen to respond to your market scan. Everyone wants to win your business and be the vendor of choice to partner with your organisation to improve efficiency and deliver great outcomes.
To that end there is very rarely a ‘request for x’ question or requirement that is not answered with a resounding ‘YES WE CAN!’
The difficulty lies in differentiating these responses. The core capabilities of ECM are a given, check-in, check-out versioning etc. There are however idiosyncrasies in your business – what you are trying to do with ECM is unlikely to be unique but your business is.
How do you test the vendor’s capabilities to confirm they can meet your business unique characteristics?
Ask yourself what is important outside of core ECM functionality – then ask the vendor to demonstrate these.
Providing a set of scenarios, as part of the process, which are specific to your business is the best way to find out if the vendor can meet your requirements:
- Ask to see the items which are unique to you
- As part of the demonstration ask to be shown how workflows are changed to enable your dynamic business process landscape
- Electronic forms start most processes, ask to view how you can create them
- If integration with other applications is crucial ask where the vendor has integrated with a specific application before or, if not, how they plan to integrate
- Ask what they perceive as their weaknesses
- Ask what differentiates them from the competition
Similar to interviewing a candidate for a job the expectation should be that the vendor is prepared and impresses us.
Knowledge of your business, their product and having the capability to demonstrate to your requirements is critical.
You are likely to have the ECM longer than your employees!
In conclusion if you provide the vendor with enough notice of your business scenario they should prepare a demonstration showing you how your business would achieve these with their solution.
Vendors are only too happy to oblige, all you need to do is ask!