Evaluating Vendors


I have spent time building or participating in Value Management (VM) teams for the past four years at HP, Cisco, and now Oracle (NetSuite). In each company, the one question that consistently comes up is, “How do we build the apps or platform to support the team and sales representatives?”

To answer that question at Cisco, I spent a few months evaluating 15+ vendors in the value-selling space. It was grueling. Oddly enough, it was not the process that was grueling, but building the content necessary to evaluate the vendors. From PowerPoints to RFPs and executive summaries, it all became cumbersome to develop and manage. I wanted an app that would centralize all these documents.

Most recently, at NetSuite, we were doing a soft evaluation of vendors and I ran into the same issue. How do I evaluate the vendors, along with our internal apps that the VM team had selected, more closely?

We came across this decision matrix (screenshot below) to evaluate vendors. Based on vendor comparison frameworks from analyst firms such as Sirius Decisions and Forrester, it can be customized for a detailed or general review. It allows five final vendors to be evaluated for any level of presentation–whether that be an overview for executives or a detailed deep dive with the VM team. This flexibility allows the person on the team leading the evaluation to house all data and metrics in one centralized place, both details and overall weighted rankings. I recommend using this app for your next vendor evaluation.



Tips from Sean

My first tip on the app’s usage would be to start simple. Build out 4-5 categories of evaluation for your top 3-4 vendors, along with what you are using internally at the time. Use this as your baseline.

Once you have your baseline and you begin talking with vendors, you can add sub-categories underneath each main category. This adds another level of detail to start differentiating one vendor from another.

Finally, for each of these categories, you can add descriptions and weight for your company’s evaluation. For example, you may be more interested in document exporting capabilities than you are back-end analytics. If that is the case, you would put more weight on the exports and less on analytics. This allows for a more accurate evaluation and true rating for each vendor. Having this automated, online app takes the pain out of setting this up in excel and powerpoint. Overall, using this app is an easy decision for anyone evaluating vendors.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at seanmhaglund@gmail.com.

About the Author

Sean Haglund

Sean Haglund

Sean has spent time building or participating in Value Management (VM) teams for the past 4 years at HP, Cisco, and now Oracle (NetSuite). At HP, Sean built the VMO from the ground up with a few others, and scaled the program across the Americas for the software teams. At Cisco, he led the building of the value-selling platform for the VM team. Now at Oracle, he spends time on industry research, prospecting, and meeting with C-level executives to talk about the value of NetSuite.