By day three the install was complete in our test environment. The challenge was that we couldnt just willy-nilly change settings and perform software upgrades in our production environment without going through a strict configuration management process. So we had to schedule another visit a few weeks later to migrate everything to production.
Now we were over a month behind schedule and the business line managers were getting antsy.
Luckily the migration to production went smoothly. At least we thought it did. About a week into the implementation, weird things started happening. Turns out the vendor didnt fully support an open standard that we assumed they did.
Actually, we thought they said the product was in full compliance of the standard. But going back and looking through their documentation, it was apparent that they only support the intent of the standard. Kind of like ordering Maryland style crab cakes, which are mostly filler and not much crab meat. Well, turns out the product had a lot of filler too and not much meat.
Shame, shame, shame.
(Perhaps this article should have been entitled How idiot customers enable idiot vendors.)
Of course the great deal sales person said they never claimed full support of the standard, only that they promised it by end of year. Yes, what a great deal.
How were we going to explain this set back after making promises to our now very, very antsy business line managers? Before we cried uncle, there was a fortunate change in events.
Remember the golfing buddies? Well, here is where it paid off. Our exec went golfing with their exec and just like magic, the vendor dramatically moved up their compliance date with this standard.
So there you have it, the relationship that got us into this mess, helped rectify it. But does that make our initial decision a good one?
Perhaps the other vendors would have provided different challenges. And without a solid interpersonal relationship there would have been a bumpy road to resolution or everything could have fallen apart.
Granted, we should have done a more thorough job with our contract and drilled down further into the soft areas of their product. But at the end of the day, having high level relationships established with a vendor is extremely valuable. It simply makes good business sense to heavily weight the quality of relationships before selecting a vendor.
When all is said and done, if a vendor decision comes down to the wire it may make sense to find time to play the back nine after a hard days work..
Like execs need another reason to golf.