Running an effective vendor selection process.
As the financial planning industry rapidly moves from the Dealer provided franchise operating model, to a self-service/self-license model many advice firms are being thrown into the deep-end of dealing with multiple service providers at the same time.
At Enzumo, we encounter different levels of maturity in how firms engage with us and while we do our very best to work with everyone we do find some common challenges for firms who have recently 'broken out of the bank'.
So here is a quick guide to best practice vendor engagement in the pre-sale process. We believe this will improve your decision making, save time, potentially money and most importantly get your relationships off on the right foot.
1. Document an external facing overview of your firm
This should be able to be quickly sent to all potential vendors and cover essential information about your practice — size, history, Employee numbers and other information relevant to an external supplier.
2. Document the critical issue you are trying to solve and what your ideal solution looks like.
If you can state the reality and the goal. Where are we today and where are we headed?
3. Outline your purchasing criteria.
What is most important to you as a firm, even if it's a shopping list of things in order.
4. What is your decision process?
Tell your potential partners your ideal timelines to make decisions, who makes it, and what documentation/sign-off process is involved.
This is important as vendors need to know all the stages of the process and what is in involved.
5. Keep your vendors informed.
Without fail, the firms that proactively communicate through the process are often the best to work over the longer term.
Even if you decide not to accept a suppliers proposal, let them know as soon as the decision is made. If possible, let them know why. This will demonstrate professional courtesy. It is a small industry, and you never know when you meet need each other in the future, mutual respect goes a long way.