There is a multitude of reasons for a business to feel the need to change a supplier. Being acutely aware of your relationship with suppliers is essential for any business leader to feel confident in their operations. Here are just a few examples of signs it’s time to consider a change. These are based on our experience in the IT industry, and by clients who’ve come to us at Cleverbit after a negative experience:

  • Your supplier seems unable to keep up with the size or frequency of your requests for new features or updates. They may hide behind the software limitations of the ‘out-of-the-box’ solution that was initially sold to you.
  • Your supplier uses outsourced human resources that seem to continuously change, with resulting inconsistency in quality and service levels.
  • The rise of freelance work has made cheaper services available, and tempting for businesses. However, scalability, trust, and consistency are difficult to find, leading to work that often ends up needing to be redone.
  • Sometimes, it’s a value mismatch. While it may seem irrelevant to business, a lack of chemistry during meetings can eventually lead to a strained relationship and a lack of motivation from both sides.

You know it’s time for a change – now what?

First, take the time to step back and really analyse what went wrong. What were the pain points of your failed relationship with your previous supplier? What worked well? Get feedback from your employees.

Make a list of requirements you need from a new supplier, and make it detailed.

With that list in hand, start talking to new vendors. Ideally, speak to a lot of them. Conventional wisdom says you should speak to at least three – we’d recommend doubling that number if possible.

Oftentimes, the more you talk about the requirements you need, the clearer the issues become and the more accurate your next selection will be. Make sure all the boxes on your list are ticked by this new supplier.

Here’s a few other things to consider when choosing a new vendor – especially in the IT space:

  • If you’re buying a different ‘off-the-shelf’ product, make sure you do so from a respected software vendor. Get second opinions from professionals in the industry, and do plenty of research. Speak to others that use it. If you’re worried about being boxed-in by another product, great software integration specialists exist.
  • Don’t take into consideration pure technical prowess when selecting a supplier. Consider whether they’re really listening to your needs and whether they truly understand your business goals in a way that makes you feel comfortable speaking to them. Trust your gut feeling when it comes to chemistry and mindset.
  • Look out for client reviews from third-party platforms such as GoodFirms, and feel free to request to chat with one of the suppliers’ clients that may have been in a similar situation to yours.
  • Consider location for time-zone differences for working hours, and international laws depending on your industry regulations.
  • Double-check whether the supplier has a proper physical head office – while not completely necessary, this may give you some confidence in knowing who you’re speaking to.

Time to take action

Once you feel you’ve done your homework and are confident in your new selection, don’t hesitate. Like any less-than-ideal relationship, you might feel trapped. But remember, no supplier, especially an IT-related one, has you by the ears. Skilled professionals can quickly understand the work that needs to be done to transfer things over. Make that move.

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