What to look for in a supplier
Fri 26 Jan 2018
When you’re looking for a new product to keep your data centre business at the cutting edge, or if you need to add the skills of a new service supplier to help you keep up with customer demand, you need to be sure you are placing your trust in the right company. However, with so many different options available to you, it can be tricky to know where to start.
Of course, a browse online is usually the best place to begin your research, and we’d always advocate the benefits of shopping around, too. However, before you take the next crucial steps, here are a few factors to bear in mind…
Quality and reliability
This is arguably the most important factor in any data centre. If you can’t rely on quality products and services to do the job you’re promising, this could impact on your customers through the subsequent service you provide. Make sure the suppliers you choose are able to deliver according to your expectations and the promises you’ve made to your own customers.
Having open and honest channels of communication allows you to plan properly if something cannot be delivered on time
In much the same vein as quality and reliability, ensure the suppliers you choose have good stock levels. There’s little point choosing a company who promises the lowest prices but who cannot deliver goods when you need them. Again, this could lead to a drop in the service you provide, which will negatively impact on your own business.
Our industry can be fast paced and ever changing so you need to look for suppliers who can develop and adapt as your business does. Knowing that you have the support network behind you to help you meet varying customer demands will provide peace of mind that you can act quickly when the need arises.
Will you have a dedicated point of contact who you can trust to provide ongoing dialogue that will help you meet the needs of your business? This can be a real game changer when choosing who you do business with, because having open and honest channels of communication allows you to plan properly if something cannot be delivered on time, for example.
Ask industry colleagues for their recommendations, look online for reviews and request case studies and testimonials from suppliers before you sign on the dotted line
As well as having a trusted contact, you should also look into the level of technical support that a supplier can offer. Data centres are highly technical facilities, with a multitude of parts working together to provide an essential service. Look for suppliers who have a dedicated team on hand to help with your questions, issues or difficulties as and when you need it.
There may be times that you have questions that aren’t technical and are perhaps a little more general, which is when having access to customer services in your own time zone provides a peace of mind that is absolutely second to none. This should be one of your highest priorities when looking for companies who you are considering working with, because you need to know they are available to help when you have questions about your account, warranties, contract terms, etc.
Where possible, meet your potential new suppliers to see if they are people you can see yourself working with. Trade shows such as Data Centre World are great places to do this as you can chat to lots of different companies under one roof. This will help you to gauge whether you trust them to deliver the services or products when they say they will, and effectively become an extension of your business. Having trust in a supplier will help you to build a strong working relationship that will become mutually beneficial.
Ask industry colleagues for their recommendations, look online for reviews and request case studies and testimonials from suppliers before you sign on the dotted line. Other people’s opinions can be really beneficial and shouldn’t be overlooked when making your own decisions.
We’re not suggesting you look into a company’s accounts here! When getting a good feel for whether a new supplier is the right fit for your facility, consider how they approach their own business. Do they provide continual training to ensure that staff are consistently at the forefront of the industry? Do they use the best tools and equipment available to provide the services and products that you require? Penny pinching in these areas can impact on the subsequent service you will receive and pass on to your own customers.
When starting up a business, you will usually define a core set of values that will allow you to take things forward in a consistent manner. When looking for suppliers it is worthwhile understanding whether their ethos aligns with yours, because a conflict here can often cause friction later on. If a supplier is on the same page as you, then everything mentioned above should happily fall into place because you will easily build a harmonious and mutually profitable working relationship.
This post originated at Data Centre Management magazine, from the same publisher as The Stack. Click here to find out more about the UK’s most important industry publication for the data centre space.