While the problem to be solved for the client is not BI, there are a lot of behaviors in common between the paper and the experience with the vendor at this client.
We had gone through many of the due diligence stages, spoken to various vendors, created shortlists, evaluated Proofs of Concept until we were down to a vendor that we wished to trial more deeply.
There were some key things we wanted to find out, so we devised tests, questionnaires, scheduled calls, read as much documentation as the vendor would let us see, but we really felt that the vendor was being very stingy with information.
Often direct questions would be answered with, "It doesn't work that way" or "no we can't do that". In the vendor's mind this might have meant, "This is not in scope for the pilot." That isn't how it came across.
It took a huge amount of probing before the vendor finally started to be more forthcoming with information - at which point things went a lot more smoothly.
So, since this is a pattern oft repeated, why do many vendors behave this way?
I can't answer for this specific case, but some ideas include:
- The process is still sales controlled and the sales team wants to control everything.
- The process is still sales controlled, so it is important to marginalize the people who can't say yes (but who can say no).
- The process is still sales controlled and the teams aren't used to the more implementation oriented lines of questioning
- There are opportunities for consulting dollars, so by keeping the prospect in the dark there is more revenue.
- The vendor believes that the solution takes some getting used to, so is rationing the information to prevent the customer from being overwhelmed.
- The vendor doesn't have adequate documentation and doesn't wish to expose that fact just yet.
- The vendor wants to see the possibilities of hard questions coming so that they can prepare for answers.
The key takeaway for me is to learn as much as possible about the solution before pilots. Get any FAQ documentation, get the configuration documentation so you can what's possible from the configuration. Ask the hard questions, don't take the answer, "You'll see it in the Pilot."