Choosing a vendor can make your head spin. There are so many things to consider. I know I have been tempted to create a dartboard and throw a dart to make the final decision. After hearing multiple presentations, most with similar pitches, the result can be “vendor soup.”
So how do you decide? There are three things to consider when making a decision, which have nothing to do with the system itself. It’s important to keep in mind that each insurer is unique, and there is no single answer that is right for all. The goal is to find a partner who is a good match for you.
Aligning on how the deliverables will be carried out is critical. Project success depends on having everyone on the same page. Some questions to consider are:
- What is the project methodology?
- What is the development methodology?
- Do you want the vendor on-site during the entire project?
- How involved do you want the vendor to be with requirements and user testing?
- How involved do you want to be with construction and unit testing?
- Will the delivery schedule match your in-house schedule not too short or too long?
- How often does the vendor provide fixes?
- How will the vendor work with your current vendors and/or outsourcers?
- What is the vendor’s experience providing system deliverables along with the existing business priority deliverables?
Projects that appear headed for success can take a nosedive because of a mismatch between insurers’ expectations and what is possible based on the vendor’s culture. Culture cannot be changed in the short term so it is essential to ensure a good match.
Questions to ask:
- What is the experience in the domain?
- Are you more comfortable with a mid-size or large vendor?
- Will the project team be dedicated to your project?
- What is the profile of the staff who will be assigned to the project team? How deep is the bench?
- What percentage is onshore vs. offshore staff?
- Will the project require 24×7 support to meet deadlines?
- Who will be the main contact? How many domain experts are available?
- What is the turnover rate for developers, project managers, business analysts and business architects and is there a good mix of each of the skill sets?
- What is the organizational structure?
- What is the governance structure? How are issues escalated and resolved?
- Are the vendor’s values and behaviors a match for your company?
Everyone enjoys a good marketing story. However, to run a successful project, it is a necessary to understand the vendor’s actual experience.
The following questions can help your assessment:
- How long has the vendor been selling systems? How many similar sales has the vendor made?
- Does the vendor have the capacity to run multiple projects simultaneously? Can the vendor provide successful references?
- Does the vendor use system integrators?
- Do the estimated time frames match the actual time frames for the implemented projects?
- Do the projects expected benefits match the actual benefits?
- Is there an active user group?
- What is the vendor’s financial strength?
- Will the vendor provide thought leadership and best practices from actual experiences?
- Is there a five-year roadmap? Is the roadmap innovative or does it reflect the addition of common features or functions?
There are no guarantees that the decision will be the right one. However, having a set of vendor specific questions and expectations will assist in highlighting the best choice for your company. One of the keys to program success is to choose the vendor understanding that delivery approach, culture, and industry experience are as critical as the features and functions of the system.
This blog entry has been republished with permission.
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The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.
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