You are past the big go live. You and your team are focused on optimization, enhancements, ongoing support issues, and upgrades. So, what should you expect from your vendor in this ongoing relationship?
I have worked with all the major EHR players and many other IT application and infrastructure vendors over the years. I have worked with three of the major EHR vendors just in the last 18 months given my interim CIO engagements.
My post “Keys to successful vendor management“ covered the importance of the product roadmap, service, total cost of ownership, reputation, contract, implementation, and escalation.
It’s time to look at the ongoing vendor relationship that clients should expect. Vendors, take note. I assume most of your clients would share this view. There’s a reason that the KLAS Research reports carry a lot of weight for CIOs, they are vendor evaluations from their peers.
Whether it is a large, proven vendor or a small start-up, here’s what you should expect:
- Excellent customer service: this means being highly responsive, providing quick resolution to issues without escalation, and well-trained, expert support staff. All in the context of a service culture.
- Effective account management: every client needs a primary point person who is the face of the vendor, who effectively and expeditiously navigates the vendor’s organization regardless of its complexity on behalf of the client, tracks and reports on all open issues and ensures overall excellent customer service.
- Executive level relationship: vendor executives who regularly meet with client executives to ensure an effective, ongoing win-win partnership and who understand and support the client’s strategic plans.
- Long term value for the investment: vendors should work with their clients to help them fully leverage and utilize current products they have already licensed, have deep knowledge and transparency around the product roadmap, and sell new add-on products only when there is a clear client need.
- Support mergers and acquisitions: provide pricing, licensing and maintenance models that enable and support continued mergers and acquisitions; not create burdens and roadblocks that hinder growing integrated delivery systems.
No vendor or product is perfect. As clients, we must make tradeoffs. But we invest big dollars in long term relationships with our vendors. There is a reason that the Gartner magic quadrant has two dimensions – “ability to execute” and “completeness of vision”. We need robust products that work reliably today and that will evolve in the future to meet changing needs.
How does your vendor stack up against these expectations? Yes, “awesome” is a very high bar. But if you gave them a low grade, it may be time for some face to face discussions.