Monday, September 22, 2014
During a procurement process, make sure you meet staff you will be working with if you select that supplier
Many people probably know the importance of this tip, but if not then you should do: when you are running a procurement process and you are meeting potential suppliers for your new CRM or fundraising system, make sure you meet the actual people from each supplier who will be working on your project. You need to be sure they are appropriate for your organisation and your project and you need to be sure that a supplier will not roll out their 'A team' during a sales presentation and then bring an entirely new team if they win the contract.
Getting the right people from the right supplier is a critical part of any procurement and subsequent implementation. You can meet the most charming and knowledgeable salesperson and pre-sales staff and then find that the implementation team know next to nothing and have no empathy with you. (Conversely, even if you don't like a salesperson, if their project team are good people then you might well overlook the dodgy salesman!)
So ask the supplier about who you could be working with, their skills and backgrounds, what other charity/fundraising/CRM projects have they worked on, why are they good, how are they trained, what is their knowledge of fundraising (or membership or service delivery…) Get their cv's. And meet them.
My one caveat to all this is that you need to do all this at the right moment during your procurement process. There is less point in doing it when you are still half a year ahead of a project kick-off - who knows what will happen between now and then; and it may be less fair to ask a company who is still on a short-list of six or seven possible suppliers for your project to name the definite people you will be working with. A supplier can't necessarily make such commitments at that time. That said, even in those scenarios you can (should) ask to meet the staff you might be working with and even that will give you an idea of the sort of person which the supplier employs - and then once you are down to your final few companies then you can start to be more firm with the suppliers and ask them for actual names and meet them.