You can’t afford to go wrong when selecting your vendor. Choosing the wrong vendor can have far-reaching implications. Whether you’re looking for a vendor to acquire an inventory management solution or are planning to join hands with a vendor that can help you with your asset management tracking system, you need to make sure that the provider is capable of supporting your needs.
The best way to do this is by visiting the vendor’s site. During your visit, you can take a look at the systems/processes and tools employed by the vendor. A site visit can also help you discover additional vendor capabilities or pieces of information that you may find useful. To get the most out of your site visits, you need to prepare well. Here are a few tips that might help:
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First and foremost, you need to define the purpose of your visit and the relationship with the vendor. Determining the scope of the visit will help your site visit team avoid unnecessary distractions and ask the questions that matter.
Create a team
Next, you need to create a core team that will visit the vendor’s site. Your team must comprise professionals from every department that will be majorly impacted by your decision (to avail the vendor’s service/buy a tool offered by the vendor). Some such departments are sales, purchase, and asset management. Make sure your team does not include more than five professionals.
To ensure everything goes according to the plan and the site visit team is able to conduct a detailed evaluation, you need to create a site inspection checklist. To help, we, in this post, provide a checklist template. Take a look.
Identify the primary contact from the inspection site.
Set a date and time of the visit after consulting your primary contact. Make sure they and their team will be available during the site visit.
Make sure every team member blocks their calendar for the visit.
Work with your primary contact and top management to set the agenda of the visit. Determine the time required for introduction, facility tour, evaluating the use of the solution in the setting, and Q & A session with end-users.
Finalize the visit agenda with the site and send it to your top management for approval.
Develop product demonstration scenarios. Outline the key product functions that your team members must check in the setting.
Develop questions to be asked during the site visit.
Send your requests to the site at least one week prior to the visit.
Determine logistics requirements. Supply every team member with address and location details and maps. Determine the mode of transportation, the travel time, and set aside a sum for refreshments, beverages, snacks, and meals.
Determine whether you need to sign a non-disclosure agreement before the visit.
Provide final confirmation 24 hours before the visit.
Site visit protocols
Every team member must carry a pre-printed agenda and schedules and business cards.
Arrive on time. Be considerate of the primary contact’s and their team’s time.
Listen carefully to every information that the primary contact and their team members share. Make sure your team members note important information. They must also review the strengths of the system/solution and areas of improvement.
Use observation record forms to collect data.
Determine whether the vendor will be able to meet your needs in the future. Make notes discussing reasons why or why not do you think that the vendor can scale up.
Once the visit is over, seek permission to contact the reference in the future.
Determine the questions that you missed.
Conduct a meeting to discuss site visit experience. Review the positives and negatives.
Rate site visit experience.
Review areas (make a special mention of unexpected areas discussed during the visit) and things that your team discussed with the site team.
Make a list of follow-up questions.
Send a thank-you note to the vendor for hosting you and your team.
A sample site visit questionnaire
How many clients do you have? Can you give an example of a business that benefited immensely from your solution
Will the users be able to access the system remotely?
What is the best and the most frustrating thing about implementing the solution being offered?
What training do we need to provide team members who’ll be using the system? Do you provide training and support packages? How long will it take to train potential users?
What are the additional hardware and software that we need to acquire?
Do you have any tips to help us get the most out of the system and keep downtime to a minimum?