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Selection guide

Getting References

Ask for at references from the vendor's other customers and talk to them privately, without the vendor's sales or marketing staff on the call. If the vendor insists on setting up and joining the call, it is a strong danger signal.

You may tell the customer and vendor that you are still looking at a couple of alternatives even if they are way ahead in the evaluation. There are two reasons for this: You retain leverage during the final price negotiation and the customer is more likely to provide honest feedback if the vendor has no way of knowing why they are not chosen. Even so, you should be aware that glowing references cannot always be trusted, any more than such references about a candidate are a guarantee of their future performance. They are just one part of your due-diligence.

Incidentally, you should ignore web-postings by "current customers" in response to on-line requests for vendor recommendations. These are almost all posted for the vendors themselves. Customer case studies at the Contract Management vendor's web site should be viewed with caution, but at least they are honest about what they represent and may be trusted roughly in proportion to the amount of hard quantitative data that they contain. "We went live in two months" means something. "The implementation was really fast" does not.

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