Reduce the Stress in Selecting Your Call Management System –
Reference Checks, Site Visits Selection
you've been following along in this series, you should be down to
the final three vendors - hopefully. When last we met, you had
invited all three to respond to the RFP. Don't wait for the
returned RFP's to get rolling on the next three critical steps.
Let the games begin.
demos Invite the vendors to present their product's features and
functionality to a core team of individuals at your company. This
could be the same audience from your kick-off meeting. The demo
should be focused on the needs as defined in your Requirements
Document. You should require only out-of-the-box functionality for
this demo. The meeting should be scheduled for 3 hours. This will
give the vendor 90 minutes to present with the rest of the time
for additional questions (and hopefully answers). Also, let them
know that you require someone who knows their application
intimately, as you may have some technical gurus in the audience
with pointed questions.
I would not suggest letting the vendors know who the short list of
competitors are. You want them showing you their product's
capabilities. You don't want them leading with specific features
they know their competitors lack.
to take diligent notes in order to summarize and compare against
the competition later. Also, document every outstanding item that
either you or the vendor committed to follow-up on and
collaboratively assign a due date to it.
Reference Checks One of your RFP questions should have been, "If
you haven't done so already, please provide three references along
with their contact information. The references should be similar
in size and industry to our organization". Let your vendor know
that you would like those reference names and contact information
as soon as possible. Three vendors times three reference checks
each means you have at least nine people to connect with.
Prior to making these information-gathering phone calls, it would
greatly help to have a questionnaire at hand to ensure you gather
all the information you need in one phone call. Questions should
solicit information on the company's experiences with the
implementation, training, documentation and technical support, as
well as the number of actual users versus licenses purchased. This
questionnaire will also be used later during the formal reference
checking of your short list of vendors.
Visits In addition to speaking to references on the phone, I
always want to get out there to a live implementation, in as
similar an environment to my operational infrastructure as
possible. Ask each vendor to provide you with the names of a
couple of clients that you can potentially visit. Call, introduce
yourself, and set up a convenient time to meet. Bring along a
couple of team members, including the person who will be the
system administrator, if that decision has been reached. Let him
or her see the application in use and chat with the technical guru
at the reference site.
Selection Congratulations, if you perform all the due diligence
steps outlined in this four part series, you will have a
bucket-full of valuable information to aid in making an educated
vendor selection. I've found that creating spreadsheets is a great
way to compare functionality and cost. Don't forget to rate the
vendor's responsiveness to your questions, no matter what they
were. If they are slow to respond to your questions now, just
think what their "sense of urgency" might be when you're a
customer and need their help. I also like to give each of their
800 support lines a call and see what type of treatment I get.
final negotiation and selection process will require additional
communications with all three vendors, as you finalize every
detail. If in doubt on anything from a vendor, get an answer, it
will come back to bite you. At some point you will reduce the
competition to the top two. It now gets a little easier to tally
the pros and cons of each.
Finally, wrap up your research, along with all the supporting
documentation, into a clear, concise document ready to be
presented to your senior management team for approval.
been a pleasure sharing my methodology for selecting a call
management system with you. As always, if you have any questions
or need a friendly sounding board for an idea, don’t hesitate to
contact Bill Tobin at (617) 909-6682 or
Part Summary: (click links to go directly to previous articles)