Have you been burned by an overpromising, underdelivering vendor? You're the steward of your company's infrastructure. Don't take the job lightly.
If a vendor's service or support offering has burned you, don't be shy about it. You're not alone. These days, it seems every retail IT vendor - sellers of hardware and software alike - offers some kind of "value-added service" via a "professional services department" that's better than the next guy's. By all vendor accounts, these are the things that set one vendor company apart from its competition. These things include the technical expertise of off-hour support staff, for example, or seamless break/fix services (complete with promises that the front end of the store will never feel the bumps should a back office problem arise). When you really think about it, the intangibles, things like the way a vendor handles adversity and its ability to honor service and support contracts, are too often tested only after much time and money have been invested in a project. And, too often the vendor fails the test.
Perhaps the most unfortunate result of what we'll call a "vendor-sponsored letdown" is the bad taste it leaves in the mouths of retail IT buyers. You can probably name a time when your excitement about a new product was brought down to earth by a gun-shy buying committee or final decision maker. What can you do now, prior to your buying decision, to put your vendors to the test? I talk to retailers every day who admit to getting burned by overpromising and underdelivering vendors. Here are some things I've picked up in those conversations that might help you as you shop:
There's no foolproof way to hire a great vendor. Even the best have failed at times. But, making sure you've done your homework will help eliminate "vendor-sponsored letdowns."