Many small and midsized business (SMB) owners would never consider running their operations without a good staffing mix suited to their business needs. Most would also ensure their personnel were properly equipped to perform assigned tasks—and they would conduct periodic employee performance evaluations and reviews.
Yet, business leaders often overlook the importance of applying these approaches to technology vendors for critical business enablers such as printers, phone services and Internet providers. Even business owners with a purchasing plan may not manage it with a long-term view, and their vendors may not proactively explore and present innovations that bring added value.
This situation is supported by statistics—per Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey, only 28 percent of those surveyed feel they have a mature vendor management approach. Only one in five respondents considers innovation when developing their contracts, even though they depend upon innovation to improve quality, maintain their competitive edge, improve user experience and drive profitability.
Yesterday’s Technology Is Today’s Doorstop
Because technology evolves so rapidly, the phone service or printer purchased a year ago may now be a dinosaur. It may work just as serviceably as it did when it was new, but if it doesn’t take advantage of new, innovative features, it’s obsolete from a business perspective.
Furthermore, as new technologies mature and more players enter the marketplace, costs go down and options go up. This is especially true in the past decade as an untold number of disruptive technologies have shaken up the technology world.
Despite these concerns, we are not suggesting that business owners “jump ship” whenever a new vendor offers them a hot new technology or a sweet deal. Cost and innovation are only part of the equation. Good customer service, willingness to customize solutions, reputation for excellence, and many other factors are equally important.
Vendor Review and Management Is the Solution
To ensure they are staying abreast of innovations while meeting business goals and receiving good value for their investments, SMB leaders should reevaluate their vendors and contracts periodically, including comparing varied products and offers. If a business owner does not have the time or aptitude to perform this effort, he or she should look to a respected partner in the technology field to help.
Thoughtful consideration and evaluation are the only way to determine if different or new products and services will provide the business true value—and whether moving to a different vendor will result in a net win for the business.