Vendor Selection

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Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

  • accomplish internal custom projects
  • train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.

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Ever hire a consulting firm to design and develop an internal training program and end up less than thrilled with the results? Many of my clients report they have experience hiring the wrong vendor on one or more occasions. Do you have a process? Is it working? Are you using the process? Here is a basic process that works and ten tips for making this very important decision.

The Process of Selecting the Right Vendor

  1. Create a pre-qualified list of service providers
  2. Conduct a vendor pre-qualifying interview
  3. Provide an RFP with a clear and detailed Statement of Work
  4. Use a checklist to review proposals
  5. Evaluate the proposals to select the best match for the work to be completed
  6. Rate each proposal on Capacity, Availability, Reliability, and Compatibility
  7. Make a decision based on their ratings and price

While this is a logical process and you may already have one too, here are some tips that seem to make it all work to make the best choice.

Tips and Best Practices in Vendor Selection

Whenever possible, conduct a thorough bid process using RFP’s (Request for Proposal). Just utilizing the RFP process causes you to think through the details and to clearly communicate your expectations, which will save time and prevent many problems during the term of the project.

  1. In the RFP, be sure to request: references, samples, examples, and resumes of the vendor’s proposed team members.
  2. Tailor the RFP to your project’s specific needs and outcomes. Do not make it a boilerplate exercise.
  3. Send RFP’s to at least three separate vendors that you have pre-qualified.
  4. Beware of the lowest bids. They may not have the proper resources for the project and as the project progresses they may need to ask for additional money in order to complete the project.
  5. Examine all the needs for vendors at one time. Some vendors may be able to provide for several needs, limiting the number of vendors to coordinate efforts with.
  6. If a project is very large, with an aggressive schedule, consider dividing up the work if logical divisions can be made, e.g., there is more than one instructional program. This will allow the project team to capitalize on the strengths of multiple vendors. This will also eliminate the exposure of giving the entire project to one vendor that may have limited resources to deal with any problems that arise.
  7. Capability (including cost) should, in most cases, be the most important of the four categories to consider while examining the strengths of each vendor.
  8. Review the individual qualifications of the vendor’s team as well as the vendor’s overall performance.
  9. Look for a vendor who will add value to the project(e.g., full service, uses more qualified writers, and makes creative suggestions).
  10. Form a team for the selection process. Include stakeholders, opinion leaders, and members with the technical, content and process expertise as needed. This not only improves the quality of the decision, but also gains “buy-in” from the stakeholders and other project participants.
  11. Have a content or technical expert interview the vendors.
  12. Consider having the vendor come to you and/or your selection team to present their proposals in person.

In summary, have a process and follow it. Refer to the tips above to refine your process and fine a great vendor. Good Luck.

See you next time,