From the April 2011 issue of Tech Decisions •Subscribe!

Giving Vendors Their Due

When I first started with this magazine, a decision was made that the focus of our articles would be on what insurance carriers have to say, along with a few consultant and analyst types.

Insurance software vendors were rendered to providing us access to a few of their customers and that’s about it. This month, though, we are giving some industry vendors an opportunity to communicate their thoughts on various topics.

The idea for this came last June at the CIO/CTO Roundtable at the IASA conference in Dallas. Our columnist George Grieve was moderating a session that featured several vendors expressing their views on the industry.

We decided to incorporate the idea into the Tech Decisions editorial calendar and now that we are part of the idea expanded into a series of posts that allowed vendors to speak out on the topics that affect them and their relationships with insurance carriers.

I think one of our problems over the years—and one that insurance carriers have as well—is that we looked at vendors as wanting something from us rather than as contributors to the process. Insurers have also been guilty of looking at solution providers as simply vendors rather than what they really are: partners.

One question we posed to several companies who asked to take part in this project was how did they view the relationship with carriers.

Mark Cummings, principal consultant with FIS Software, wrote: “There are those carriers who (unfortunately) view a partnership as requiring a winner and a loser or a way to extract great discounts. These carriers will often make decisions without having offered the solution provider insight into the organization’s goals, limitations, and priorities. When the solution provider lacks the benefit of the big picture, and when carrier communication is lacking, everyone is at a disadvantage. In this situation, projects tend to be more reactive and rarely result in success.”

Fortunately, this appears to be a problem that is getting solved. Times are too delicate to even consider the possibility of a project failure. Pointing fingers at the vendor won’t earn you any bonus points with the executive committee or the board.

Wendy Corman, president, North America, for edge IPK, offered some advice: “All vendors should act as if they had a stake in the carrier’s decision; educating and providing examples during the evaluation process. A good vendor is one that can assist with information to help the buyer determine the best fit.”

These are good pieces of advice that some of us have been ignoring for far too long.

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