Who to meet
Make sure the supplier involves the team leads and as many of the team members who will be responsible for the project as possible. The provider will likely insist on having key executives and sales people participate, but push back on that. “It remains difficult to convince the supplier that the best way to winning the business is to let the customer team have focused time with the provider team,” says Kirz, “but we overcome this every time.”
What to look for
Forget about executive decks and sales presentations. “Nothing should be done on the site visit that could have been done at home,” advises Kirz. Most shortlisted vendors will have similar capabilities in areas like backup power or physical security. This should be a practical visit for getting to know the proposed solutions, detailed project plans, team members, and tools. “It is the only way to get a real sense of the ability to succeed,” Kirz says.
Meet and rate the quality, experience, expertise, and cultural fit of the proposed team, particularly their ability to collaborate and add value. Review the details of the proposed solution and transition to determine how practical it is to your company’s specific situation. Observe how the service provider actually deploys and uses the proposed tools with other clients and determine how or if they will work in your own environment.
“All the providers should look relatively the same in terms of pricing, requirement and terms, until those visits,” says Kirz. “Customers typically meet with three to five shortlisted providers and by the end of the trip have clear frontrunners.” If a visit is absolutely not possible, some suppliers are open to flying their proposed team leads to the U.S., or in the worst case scenario, conduct video conferences.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.