Choosing a Vendor


Like many of you, we’re often faced with finding a supplier or vendor to do the things we don’t do in house.  These vary from hardware and software to maintenance of existing assets to website design:)

Our recent experience getting an updated website brought to mind some basics that we thought we’d share.

First was deciding what we were trying to achieve. Naturally, we knew exactly what we wanted until we did some research and discovered what was available. Then the choices multiplied. Sorting out what the advantages and disadvantages were was a starting point.

Next we discussed our situation with a number of people we knew that had similar work done. These people included experts that were in our networking groups (that’s why they’re there), business contacts and our favourite IT geeks. This was valuable in that it gave us the ability to talk to potential vendors about relevant topics and gave us a comfort level that made choices simpler.

Then we spoke with a variety of vendors and specialists in order to come up with a short list of people that we thought we would be able to work with. As in all purchasing situations, the playing field was hardly level. Some were too small and wouldn’t be able to provide after purchase support. Some were too large and wanted to treat our site like were an international conglomerate. We finally got to 3 or 4 companies that seem to be in line with our needs.

When it came down to signing up with one vendor, we looked at our abilities and what we could do and what the vendor could do for us. We had decided early on that since we’re not website designers, we should have some one who could provide some hand-holding but at the same time recognise that we are not wholly ignorant of the process and results we wanted.   This narrowed the search even more.

The company we decided on was, and is, able to do the initial work of designing the site as well as giving us the support in the future that we will require. They had the ability to deliver on their promises, both in the actual work and in the timeline that we had agreed upon.

It’s sometimes surprising that , as a vendor, it’s difficult to choose a vendor but with some planning and good advice from our support groups it can be relatively painless.