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Step 3: Select A Vendor

In this step, you'll select the most suitable vendor based on the evaluation process conducted in Step 2.

How you select your ITSM solution will be done to a host of parameters unique to your circumstances and requirements that you need to evaluate, but make sure you are doing this consistently and fairly for each option. For example, if you don't see a feature in one solution that appears in another, ask the vendor if it exists, don't just make assumptions.

Ultimately, it would be best if you had just two or three options that it comes down to. However, if you are privileged to know which solution is right for you without too much deliberation, I recommend just going for it.

Always follow internal procurement guidelines, and demonstrate your evaluation and recommendation in a business case. Others may need to know how the decision was reached.

Review the vendor evaluations

Revisit the evaluations you conducted in Step 2, 'Identify & Evaluate Vendors', noting each vendor's strengths and weaknesses. Pay special attention to their ability to fulfil your requirements and any additional features or capabilities that may add value to your help desk operations.

The best way to analyse options is to put them into a matrix, such as a spreadsheet, and numerically score each solution against consistent criteria. Maybe some score more highly in certain areas that look good but are weak in the mandatory features.

a hand using a magnifying glass

Compare costs

Evaluate each vendor's pricing models, considering the initial setup costs, ongoing maintenance fees, and any additional costs for customisation or integrations. Factor in your budget and the potential return on investment (ROI) the tool can provide.

I always recommend looking at the total cost of ownership over three years. Some suppliers will give an artificially low cost in year 1, substantially increasing the costs through years 2 and 3. They know it is tough to move once locked into their software. Vendors may be low in one area, such as licencing, but high in another, such as integrations with other applications and tools. Make sure they are being transparent and upfront with their costings.

Check references and customer testimonials

If you want additional confidence, contact other clients to understand their experience with the tool and the vendor's support services.

In addition, online reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into the tool's performance and user satisfaction (see Gartner & Capterra in the previous section).

Consider vendor stability and reputation.

Research the vendor's stability, financial health, and standing in the industry. Choosing a well-established vendor with a proven track record reduces the risk of disruptions due to financial issues or lack of support. Sometimes the Finance or Procurement teams in an organisation can help here. This is especially important if you don't have much information on an organisation or they don't appear on many evaluation platforms (i.e. Gartner). You could be an early adopter of new technology, offering significant benefits and drawbacks.

Assess vendor support and responsiveness.

Evaluate the quality of the vendor's support services, including their response times, availability (24/7 or business hours only), and communication channels (phone, email, chat). Selecting a vendor with reliable support services can help ensure a smooth implementation process and minimise potential issues during operation. Dig around on their website, read their help materials and get a sense of their offering. Great support can make or break a relationship.

It can be very telling by evaluating how much the vendor engages with you during the early days and how much support they are willing to offer you in onboarding and migration. Someone once referred to this as the 'get out of bed index', which means if you call a vendor early one morning because you have a problem, will they jump out of bed and get to it because they value your custom, or will they treat your organisation as one among many, and roll over and go back to sleep?

Ensure scalability and future-proofing

Consider whether the ITSM tool can scale and adapt to your organisation's future needs, such as growing user bases, additional features, or integration with other systems. Choose a vendor capable of supporting your long-term goals and growth plans. This refers to the earlier discussion on our three-year plan for the ITSM solution and any modular add-ons.

Weigh the pros and cons

picture showing a woman weighing some items

Review all the information gathered during the evaluation process, and weigh the pros and cons of each vendor. Then, create a shortlist of the top contenders, and discuss the options with your team and stakeholders to reach a consensus.

That said, while consensus is great, don't attempt to make decisions by committee. It should be no more than 2 or 3 people making a decision and a final recommendation.

Decision-making owner(s) and accountability should be clear.

Negotiate terms and conditions

Once you've chosen the preferred vendor, negotiate to secure favourable terms and conditions. This may include pricing, service level agreements (SLAs), support services, and customisation options.

Generally, if the supplier publishes its licencing prices on its website transparently, it won't negotiate. However, if they keep their price book closed and are coy about pricing, you have more room for manoeuvrability. Always act keen but cool. You want the vendor to believe you are interested in their product but have options and don't have to choose them.

If pricing is at the discretion of the salesperson, then they'll pressure you at month, quarter or year-end for the revenue so they can make their sales targets. This can be annoying as they pester you every five minutes, but valuable if you deliberately wait to engage them at one of these points.

Terms and conditions are likely non-negotiable for larger organisations, so I wouldn't even try. However, with smaller vendors, there is always an opportunity to be more explicit about expectations around support and maintenance.

Critical contract considerations to allow you to select a vendor

Important things to always review in any contract, whether you can negotiate them or not, are;

  • Payment terms. Be clear on how invoicing will work. There can be a significant difference for a CFO in paying everything up-front rather than quarterly or monthly. Most small or medium organisations like to smooth their cash flow to regular payments rather than sudden annual spikes.

  • Termination terms. Understand clearly how and when you can terminate your licence agreement. For example, if you are committed to the vendor for a period, you need to know for how long and under what circumstances (i.e. poor performance) you can terminate early and what that process looks like. Also, check the terms about exporting your data. Some organisations may charge extra to help you migrate or may not even let you take your data. It's worth knowing the boundaries.

  • Warranties/service credits. If the performance is poor, how does the vendor experience that pain? Do they have service credits or a money-back scheme? What motivation do they have for providing excellent service?


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