HBR on the 6 Rules for Choosing IT Vendors


A recent Harvard Business Review item caught my eye because it highlighted the similarities between botched home improvement projects and ERP implementations. It also confirmed several of our beliefs about the right way to choose IT vendors. All of the rules make sense, but based on our experience, these are the most important:

  • “Don’t base your vendor choice on personal relationships. Those relationships can cloud your judgment. Objectivity should be the goal. To add further objectivity, use external consultants who will not be part of the ongoing project.”
  • “A vendor’s references to specialized solutions need to be subjected to high degrees of due diligence: … Many companies will spend millions on a software contract but won’t take the time to visit a vendor’s prior customers.”
  • The formal specification should always be complete before work commences … ‘specify as you go’ models … can add significant cost, delay the project, and create a design that is an endlessly moving target.”

In our experience, these rules lay the groundwork for highly productive, mutually beneficial and transparent partnerships. Further, following them provides peace of mind; you can rest easy knowing that you did everything you could to avoid the squandering of time and money and to set up your IT projects and vendor relationships for success. Given what is at stake, these steps should not be overlooked or rushed through, even when IT groups are under great pressure to get started.

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