Vendor Assessment

This technique, as described in the BABOK, is about evaluating the stability, suitability, and capability of individual vendors. This information can also be used to compare vendors, using any number of qualification/disqualification criteria and scoring systems (e.g., the first three analyses discussed here), but this article is about what the major criteria used for evaluation and comparison are.

Vendors, of course, are organizations (or individuals) that provide goods and services that your organization does not, or that supplement your offerings when you have limited capacity to deliver. Vendors can be engaged to provide those goods and services to you or your organization, or to a customer you or your organization are serving.

Both the goods and services provided by the vendor, and the vendor itself, may be evaluated. Different criteria may be evaluated based on the situation. The BABOK concentrates mostly on the quality and health of the vendor. I would guess that evaluation of their offerings falls under solution evaluation, in general, which is why it isn’t addressed much in this section of the Techniques chapter.

The criteria for judging the vendor are listed as:

  • Knowledge and Expertise: This measures what the vendor knows and how well it can apply that knowledge.
  • Licensing and Pricing Models: This must be judged based on the anticipated usage scenarios, especially when the technical capabilities are not strongly differentiated. There can be many combinations and permutations of deployment and access configurations and all need to be compared using a similar cost-benefit analysis.
  • Vendor Market Position: This can reflect the relative popularity and success of a vendor, and can also affect how important you and your organization may be to the vendor. There may be varied benefits from being part of different customer communities.
  • Terms and Conditions: These involve the continuity and integrity of the provided products and services. This can affect future decisions to change vendors, how sharing and confidentiality of both organizations’ data is handled, how disputes and modifications are to be handled, and how updates and features and delivery are to be managed.
  • Vendor Experience, Reputation, and Stability: This involves the impressions of other customers and competitors, the attitude of the vendor’s representatives, and the financial stability of the vendors. Your organization should also plan for contingencies to act upon if any of these characteristics change over time (especially if such changes are sudden and for the worse).
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