Starting the Purchasing Engine

Zachary Martin, Director-IT, Infrastructure, Mi-Jack Products
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Zachary Martin, Director-IT, Infrastructure, Mi-Jack Products

These days there are so many different “solutions” that will resolve the exact same issues. Generally speaking, there are three categories of products: low-cost (needs more hands-on configuration; non-enterprise),big name (been around for a long while and has a large share of the market), and niche (designed specifically to serve this one purpose). No matter where you look, the same names typically pop up. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with a 3rd party vendor, doing your own web search, or talking with leaders from other companies. Most likely, the same three products will be the ones on your short list.

“The goal is to not put limitations on your search. Keep your eyes open for even the smaller products”

Finding your starting point can be the hardest step. Some executives/leaders have no idea where to start or who to talk to. What makes it even harder is the issue of time. Who has the time to do extensive research these days on at least three different companies; especially when you have a million other things on your plate? I’ve found that it is best to use a 3rd party source and to utilize your team leaders and engineers. Not every Director/VP/Manager knows every detail of every aspect of their craft. So why not delegate the search to the people who are going to be your subject matter experts?

The goal is to not put limitations on your search. Keep your eyes open for even the smaller products. Maybe your company’s needs don’t require that large workhorse of a system. There’s nothing worse than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an implementation and product that your company only utilizes 20%. ROI is always talked about, but in Information Technology, it is often ignored or minimized after the fact.

So how should Executives focus? Reach out and use your resources. All those phone calls that you receive with the attempt to sell you a product, answer it. Take a couple seconds out of your day to listen; have them send you documentation or setup a web meeting. Then pass that information to your team leads. Have the 3rd party vendors give their expertise. Sure they want to sell you certain products many times, but have them do that unwanted research for you. Your job as the decision maker is to make the final, educated decision. You have subject matter experts hoping to show you their best and give their opinions. So, use them for that. What comes next is for them to prove why that product is best for your company. And then use a decision making system to rate each product without bias. Now, you’ve satisfied all the parties. You gave the salesman a chance to pitch their company, the 3rd party vendor gives you their data and professional opinions, your lead engineers are in the process, and you can still focus on all those other things that have a high importance. Like looking into those products of whichyou’re only using 20 percent. 

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