The choice is yours!

The choice is yours!

In my last two blogs, I primarily focused on system functionality and available features. When evaluating and selecting a new system, these aspects—essentially the hard facts—can be difficult to compare and rate. Typically, you use an RFP (Request for Proposal) outlining your requirements, and potential suppliers respond with their levels of compliance: compliant, partially compliant, or not compliant. You then assign points and tally the scores to determine the highest-scoring system.

Congratulations, you’ve selected a system based on hard facts.

However, sometimes the talent and appearance of salespeople can influence your decision, even though they shouldn’t. Salespeople don’t implement, support, or further develop the system. Statements like “Yeah, but the salesperson was really nice” won’t improve your load factor or reduce costs. Salespeople can often obscure your view and disrupt your unbiased selection process.

On the other hand, engineers, as I know from my own experience, are typically the worst salespeople. They’re often too absorbed in details you don’t need and can explain simple concepts in a way only other engineers would understand. There’s a saying that Americans can sell you systems they don’t actually have, while the Swiss struggle to sell you a system that works perfectly for your business.

Ultimately, once you’ve selected a system, it all comes down to the people. You need people who understand you and your business, whom you can trust, and who know the system inside out. These people should provide answers when needed, be proactive, listen to you, transform ideas into reality, and treat small customers the same as big ones. People comprise half of the system you’re using. Yet, most RFPs lack a human element. While you might request CVs, you often won’t deal with those individuals, especially in large companies.

You need people who can migrate data from your old platform to the new one, possess the extra skills to make the impossible possible, and help configure the system to match your specific requirements. You need people who respond promptly to support and change requests—these requests aren’t meant for a historical museum. Additionally, you need people who continuously invent and implement system enhancements, new distribution channels, and industry and government requirements.

This is why RFP shouldn’t stand for “Request for Proposal” but “Request for People.” Remember, we can always replace hard facts, but never soft power. So, choose wisely.

Roland Heller

Managing Director