How to select an IT vendor for your entrepreneur / small business project?

by Ashvini on September 7, 2010

in Entrepreneurship

Selecting an IT vendor is one of the most difficult part of your entrepreneurial venture. If you just search for website development on Google, you will find that there are so many of  people and companies offering their products and services. It is difficult for small businesses to chose because they don’t have the expertise or know how to get the right vendor.
Most of the times, a small business owner only thinks of the vendor who will deliver at the lowest price. However, it is not a good idea as low prices don’t guarantee good value. Vendors constantly undercut each other to remain competitive. Low prices are essential to bring your entrepreneurial cost down but it should not take your business down too.
Website design and development is such a crowded space that sometimes it is difficult to decide on the appropriate vendor.
So the question is how do your decide which vendor is good enough for you? Here are some of the tips ( not exhaustive) just to help you do that.

  1. Do not decide on price alone
  2. You have your budget and you want to stay in it. However a little stretching is good if you do find the right vendor who is charging a little higher but is going to deliver on the project.

  3. Prepare an RFP
  4. Prepare a document detailing out the features that you want in your website. It is a good idea to include everything that is related to your website such as

    • registration of website
    • Ownership of website
    • Features to be developed
    • A small project plan
    • and things like that. Send this RFP to as many vendors as possible and get their responses.

  5. Ask if they have done it before
  6. You can state that prior experience is an advantage. So if they have done something similar to your project in the past, they will have preference for selection.

  7. Ask about their company, teams and ongoing project
  8. Asking about the above will help you establish if the vendor takes the work seriously, has more than one client and has team to deliver on schedule.

  9. Ask for prototypes
  10. It is a good idea to ask for a prototype before you go ahead with the project. For e.g. how would a customer log in and make a purchase can be shown in the prototype. This will help you gauge vendor’s confidence and knowledge.

  11. Ask for references
  12. If your vendor is new, probably they won’t have many references. But insist on a reference. Talk to the references and find out how your vendor performed while working for / with them.

  13. Trust your gut
  14. In the end it helps to trust your gut when you have to make a choice between equally good vendors. After having evaluated all the vendors, you should go with the person whom you liked in your interactions and who appeared honest and forthright, all things being equal.

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