Article

Mark Appleton
Mark Appleton 23 March 2017

4 Simple Steps To Help You When Choosing A New Platform Supplier

Starting the search for a new Platform Supplier can be daunting at first (a Platform Supplier in this instance being anything from a systems integrator (SI) to a full service agency or anything in between). The sheer number of agencies, development houses and the like can make it difficult to know where to start.

Then there’s thinking about what you actually want from your new supplier, what needs to be different from the last people you had?

Starting the search for a new Platform Supplier can be daunting at first (a Platform Supplier in this instance being anything from a systems integrator (SI) to a full service agency or anything in between).

The sheer number of agencies, development houses and the like can make it difficult to know where to start. Then there’s thinking about what you actually want from your new supplier, what needs to be different from the last people you had?

It Started With A Kiss Plan

Start with the basics. What do you want from your new supplier? Do you want them to be creative, bold, always bringing new ideas to the table? Do you want them to simply do what you tell them to do? Somewhere in between?

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer here, your circumstances will dictate what you are looking for. Be careful not to think that what you are looking for is the exact opposite of what you’ve just had. This is particularly apt if the relationship with your current/previous partner broke down for some reason.

Entering the search for a new partner with the mindset of ‘as long as they’re not like the last lot’ means you’re focussing on negatives and not the positives you want from this new partnership.

Investigating This, Investigating That. Just, Investigating.

Do all the research you need before you even start to talk to a supplier. Look on Google, Social Media even Companies House see if you can find out what people are saying about them and see if, financially, they cut-it. Some procurement departments will rule suppliers out based on poor accounts results.

Ask colleagues, others in your industry, others in their industry for their thoughts. Many companies will list their clients on their website and there’s nothing to stop you ringing those clients up to ask about the projects that were undertaken.

Pick A Card, (Not) Any Card

You’ve got your plan, you’ve done your research, now it’s time to pick. Woah, slow down there a second, you’re not picking your final Platform Supplier just yet, you’re picking a handful.

From your investigations select a suitable number of suppliers who have hit the mark, three is a minimum, anything more than five and it’s going to get very complex, very quickly.

Create a score card, a way to measure each of these suppliers that’s accurate, fair and equal across them all. Now, arrange to meet these suppliers. And not just meet their MD or Chief Sales Maker, meet the people who would most likely be working on your account, demand this, nicely.

There are a couple of schools of thought on this. One is that you should always go to their offices, that way you get to see the whole team, make sure they are who they say they are, that sort of thing.

The other school of thought is meet them at your office, see how they turn up (en-masse, dressed appropriately, etc.) or meet them somewhere neutral, so no-one has ‘home advantage’.

When we’re assessing we have the advantage of having been to both client and supplier premises, this is the ideal, but you may simply not have the time to attend so many meetings (five potential partners, two meetings per partner, ten in total and this is just initial meetings).

Don’t forget to create an agenda for these meetings (could very well be one for all of them). Think about what you want to ask in advance, what do you want to get out of them? Try not to ask leading questions, but open ones. Think of it like an interview (that’s essentially what it is).

Follow The White Rabbit?

Meetings done, score card all filled up, time to relax. Briefly anyway. Now it’s time to think back to all those meetings, look through your scoring, remember the conversations and select who you want to work with.

Simple, right? All you have to do now is enter into contract negotiations, get things signed off by the board and prepare a plan for the rest of the year that your new supplier can be working on...

Choosing a new platform supplier isn't a quick process and it is not something that you should approach lightly. We match businesses of all sizes with suppliers of all shapes and have seen first hand what happens when it goes wrong.

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