10 Hacks for Researching Vendors When You Have     Little Time

A national survey recently found that finding time to research vendors is the #1 challenge faced by busy purchasing professionals.* Though finding the right vendor for your organization is an important decision, it doesn’t have to be a time consuming endeavor. The hacks listed below can expedite and streamline your organization’s vendor selection process:


      1.     Set your criteria: What are your business requirements? Setting the criteria in advance will allow you to research and evaluate potential vendors on each of the listed items and ensure that you don’t overlook any important requirements. Furthermore, your goal should be to educate the reader so they can come up with an accurate price and time quotes.
      2.     Define your process and evaluation criteria. Identify the methods you’ll use to find appropriate vendors. Will you publicly call for bids or will you approach selected companies directly for proposals and estimates? You’ll also want to create an “evaluation spreadsheet” in Excel to help make the decision. In it, write down criteria to evaluate potential vendors. This criteria might include customer service, competency, capacity, price, financial stability, past performance and philosophy, innovation, etc.
      3.     Allocate a time frame for conducting your vendor selection process. Have members of your team ready to review the proposals and recommend a short list of vendors.
      4.     Ask for referrals from various sources including friends, coworkers, LinkedIn, and social media networks. Sometimes referrals from trusted sources can prove most helpful in finding business partners. Your sources might be able to share about personal experience – both positive and negative – about the vendor.
      5.     Post on a domain expert forum/mailing list. Project-specific forums can be a great place to find recommendations.
      6.     Peruse industry publications. Are there vendor ads which have caught your eye? Who do the experts in your field recommend?
      7.     Look at review sites. Reading vendor reviews acts as a cautionary action step, provides you with social proof of experiences, and gives you an opportunity to evaluate the vendor’s credibility. Ask yourself: Is this vendor trustworthy and will they deliver a good product?
      8. Be prepared to ask potential vendors questions. In addition to asking about cost, timelines, etc. you’ll want to ask other questions such as: Does your company have experience with a business like ours and do you understand our needs? As our business grows, can you scale to meet our needs? Is your customer service quick to respond and knowledgeable? If we were to partner with you, who would be our key contact with your company? What quality management processes do you have in place to ensure consistency of quality and meeting deadlines? What is your approach toward communication? What circumstance can the supplier identify that might make prices change, either now or in the future? What are the supplier/vendors payment terms, and is there room for negotiation?
      9.     Watch a webinar on state of the art. (I searched for potential links to include here, but didn’t find any which seemed like obvious choices.)
      10.  Google. Though googling a potential vendor might be an attractive option, keep in mind that oftentimes a high Google rank is only an indicator of good SEO skills.





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