Weeding through vendor pricing hype

59705 pts.
Application software
Our consortium is thinking about changing vendors for desktop management. We?re being pitched by more about ten vendors who all say they can give us the best price. All of them have different approaches to pricing and we?re having a hard time figuring out how to compare apples to apples. What?s the best way to get information from a vendor in a format that will allow us to really compare offerings?

Answer Wiki

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It’s called an RFP (Request For Proposal) where YOU lay out the features that you want in priority order, arranged with appropriate sub-categories, as meets your requirements.

Then each vendor (assuming that they want to play the game), replies to that IN THE SAME FORMAT, with whatever they’re offering.

Here’s a simple example:


Desktop Support/Management Package
1. Remote Control
1.1 IT must be able to view users desktop
1.2 IT must be able to take control of user’s desktop
1.3 IT must be able to prevent user interference
2. Patch Management
2.1 IT must be able to get a patch configuration on demand from any live desktop
2.2 IT must be able to push patches from a central point
3. Configuration Management
3.1 IT must be able to control configuration of applications (Browser, Email, Word Processing, etc.)
3.2 End user must only be able to change certain limited things (screen saver, background, etc.)
4. Anti-Virus
4.1 IT must be able to push new virus definitions
4.2 IT must get reports of all virus activity
4.3 Inbound email must go through local anti-virus proxy
4.4 Sent email must go through local anti-virus proxy

You get the idea. Then, each vendor must respond to each line item with a product/feature with a price next to it.

You can enrich the definitions by specifying Must have, Nice to have, or Optional (pick your definitions) with each one.

Hope that helps,


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  • DrillO
    In addition to Bob's comments which are right on, you MUST make sure that the vendours speek to you in terms you are comfortable with. I have had vendors try to buffalo me with Geek-Speak and when you are reviewing RFPs by committee, it can be very difficult to counter obvious attempts to snowball when you might be the only one in the room that knows the language. The other aproach is to get a couple of vendours in to talk to you and then decide what you want and what standards need to be met and then write a very tight tender document that spells out in minute detail what you expect. It takes a lot of time but can be worth the effort. Make sure either way that you do lot of homework. Good luck, Paul
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  • Wireprogless
    To amplify on the two excellent replies already brought forward: A) As the customer, use only terms that are comfortable to you. The vendors that are worthy of your attention will adapt their presentation(s)/pitches to your terminology, or will clearly explain the features in your terms. B) If they are unwilling, and continue in their geek-speak, this is a good indication of how they will speak to you in the event of a problem with their product, and the same discomfort you have with the pitch they are throwing will be the same level of discomfort you will experiemce with their customer service department when something goes wrong (Most often when a salesman says the poroduct will do something and you can't get it to work as advertised) C) Be honest with the vendor. Tell them, "We think we like what you have, BUT will you please describe it in not such a technical way? You cannot be sold something you do not want. ALWAYS remember, as a buyer you hold the magic word, "NO". I am a corporate sales trainer who got tired of the sales pit some time ago and re-wrote my career path and absolutely love the IT world. send me a message if I can be of greater help. Ben
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