Seven things you need to do when choosing a supplier

I often find that organisations looking to make significant improvements in assessment get to a point where they need to bring in additional resource to move a project forward, whether they need expertise not available in house, to work with a supplier with specialist products or services, or simply additional capacity to get a project delivered more quickly.

Unless managed properly this can go disastrously wrong. Here are my 7 top tips for making sure you select the right supplier for the job:

1.      Focus on the what not the how. By defining your issue clearly and the problem you are looking to solve, this allows you to have more interesting conversations with suppliers, benefiting from their expertise to suggest a potential solution to the problem.

2.      Have clear objectives and scope for the work. To be effective additional resource needs to be focused on a particular issue you are looking to solve which will ensure that you achieve the transformation you want. Too often consultants or suppliers are brought in and, without an agreed scope, objectives, timescale and deliverables, a project can drift or change direction costing an organisation a considerable amount of money with the original issue still unresolved.

3.      Large or small? This will depend on what you are looking to achieve. Larger companies may have more resources but beware the organisations who send out the ‘big guns’ for the sales pitch who won’t actually be doing the work. Smaller companies may be more flexible and able to adapt to changes more quickly, often because the business owner will be closely involved. However, beware the experts who know the theory, say the right words but haven’t actually delivered similar projects with similar challenges to yours

4.      Organisational fit. Technical expertise is, of course, essential, especially when working in the area of assessment but do make sure that you consider organisational fit – how well will this supplier fit with your organisation and the people they will be working with?

5.      Cultural fit. if you are working in a highly regulated industry or overseas any supplier you work with needs to have an understanding of the market specifics and, specifically when working overseas, and limitations from an infrastructure perspective.

6.      Will they be a critical friend? If you are working with an external supplier, they need to be able to act as a critical friend and challenge you. This is particularly important if they are working on a project that your organisation has struggled to progress as their ability to identify the issues with some straight talking to cut through the barriers may be essential.

7.      Will they treat you as a customer or a client? When considering a supplier think about the type of relationship you want with them and whether that is what they are offering you. Will it be more of a transactional relationship, treating you as simply a customer, or do they see you as a client where you are building a relationship with you and working with you to solve problems and make a difference.

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