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Choosing the Right ITSM Partner: Questions To Ask When Shortlisting Suppliers by@topdesk
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Choosing the Right ITSM Partner: Questions To Ask When Shortlisting Suppliers

by Ruben FranzenAugust 23rd, 2022
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Service management solutions are investments in an organization's future. The most successful partnerships are built with organizations emphasizing freedom, trust, and responsibility. Don't underestimate the importance of company culture when considering an ITSM vendor. Ask each vendor how they plan to grow with you, and how they're willing to help you grow in the future. Invite representatives from that vendor to strategic meetings involving the business areas that their product will touch and affect. Invite vendors into strategy sessions to help them align their product to your strategy in the most efficient manner possible.
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Does their culture match that of your vendor partners? Are there points in which the organizations you work with align? Who are the people working on the solutions, developing them? Is there any common ground where you can come together with your vendor partners to achieve business outcomes? What about with the people helping build the solution?

The people who create and support your new tool will impact the solution itself. Don't underestimate the importance of company culture when considering an ITSM vendor. You've got to consider aspects of the organization you might not think will be factors. What are their employees like? Do their values match yours?

The most successful partnerships are built with organizations emphasizing freedom, trust, and responsibility. An essential part of this selection process is seeking out those that are honest, straightforward, and willing to respond as needed when needed. What can they offer up, and how can they help you achieve the most critical elements of keeping service running to your organization. Sometimes, the most important thing that a vendor can tell you is that they can’t help you.

That's called integrity and sticking to it. It takes leadership and grit for leadership within a vendor to tell you straight up that they can't serve you well or are unable to meet your needs in the manner that best fits your organization's needs. While not typical, some organizations will tell you if you're not a good fit for their product. One example of this might be when a vendor provides an enterprise solution when what you need is a solution more suited for a lesser mature solution.

Your investment in such a solution is essential. They set you up for the future. Because it's such an important decision and can significantly impact your organization's future, look for vision and foresight in your partners. Likewise, are they committed to innovation – yours and theirs? Also, are they willing to help you grow in the future?

Where you are today is not where you're going, nor is how you use the solution now the way you’ll use them in the future. Service management solutions are investments in an organization's future. Unfortunately, these technologies that power the help desk and ticket management systems are not a quick fix for long-term success.

When these realities are thought through, stop! Your vendor shortlist must be the first step in the success of your organization's long-term future. Okay, point made. This is an important decision not to be taken lightly. Review your shortlist and ask each vendor how they plan to grow with you. What specific steps do they plan to take, and how might these actions impact your medium- and long-term outcomes. When you’ve asked each vendor this question, ask their respective customers the same question.

While doing so, maintain your gaze on the road ahead. How is each solution positioned for future innovation? How is each vendor investing time and resources into expanding their software's capabilities to meet customer needs? Based on input from customers, you can quickly determine what the future shows. You can see how they are investing, where development strategy is, and where any potential areas of attention are needed, like strengthening their mobile offerings, enhancing asset management capabilities, or expanding overall ecosystems.

One of the most important ways to analyze these and other areas of focus is by reviewing each vendor’s product roadmaps and Kanban boards – each should be easy to obtain if requested. These diagrams can help indicate whether an ITSM vendor is ready for a long-term commitment with your organization or if its plans are running one way now but changing in the near term.

Bring vendors into strategy sessions

Another step to consider is inviting representatives from that vendor to strategic meetings involving the business areas that their product will touch and affect. Doing so can help them align their product to your strategy in the most efficient manner possible.

Doing so also may help you tap into their expertise for planning, preparing, and growing through and during the transition. You may also gain a competitive advantage, particularly if your vendor partners are part of critical decisions at the outset of the implementation. Keep conversations on the appropriate level as the decision requires.

Build for the long term

As noted above, vendor relationships – the good ones – are along for the long term. Unless the relationship is transactional (a company is selling a phone or paper, for example), you're entering into a long-term commitment of sorts. It's always better to keep an eye on the future, measuring energy, expense, and efficiency outcomes. Consistently changing vendors to save a bit here or there costs more in the long term and impacts quality, too.

Long-term relationships with vendors also lead to trust and shared accountability. The vendor also benefits by securing product feedback, insight into how its solution works and responding to other customer and analyst requests.

Understand the vendor's business

Getting to know a vendor's business and their business model for profitability can help your leaders understand how best to part with the organization. Vendor management allows you to build a relationship with your suppliers and service providers to strengthen both businesses. Vendor management involves the back-and-forth of a successful relationship to benefit both the supplier and the buyer. The process
should be structured to be a win-win for both sides.

Communicate often

The most important success factor of vendor management is to share information and priorities with them. Establish regular communications with leadership on both sides -- this ensures priorities are understood, met, and set new goals. Communication also creates and drives accountability and lets you monitor performance and milestones.

Bear these points in mind as you shortlist vendors and other partners to more easily navigate the path to future solutions and find solutions to help you grow and meet your goals, strategy, and outcomes to serve the organization and navigate its success.