Beware: this also applies to vendors, as well as technologies, systems, etc.

“What do you mean, I don’t want best of breed?” 

Isn’t this a totally rational position from the layman’s perspective? We all want the best, assuming the price is not prohibitive, but much of the time, having “the best” is NOT in your best interest.

Below, this is addressed in two paradigms, one of a hardware or technology purpose, the other to be used when choosing a vendor. These paradigm summaries are just that, brief explanatory notes of the concept — exceptions and situational details can make the discussion much lengthier. While on the surface, the task is simple, albeit time consuming, certain decisions will go to the core of your business strategy.

The Vendor Paradigm of Choosing “Less Than the Best”

This starts with how you might define the “best” of a vendor. The classic criteria is the mix of the following:

    1. The company itself — i.e., history, financials, reputation, culture, etc.
    2. The vendor’s product and its technological leadership, reliability, core competencies, etc.
    3. The vendor’s pricing, depending on what this means to you; i.e., initial price, maintenance costs, downtime costs, staff training needs, etc.

So now you’ve chosen “the best” vendor. What does the preceding list completely miss? Its relationship with others in your space. Unless there are absolutely no interdependencies between vendors that’ll impact your business, getting the “best” now has a very narrow meaning. You don’t need me to explain how a failure in one area can cripple an otherwise well-honed process in another. As is typically the case when this happens, the others in the process are not likely to carry the another’s slack even when they have the ability.

Best practice is looking at the environment in its entirety and defining those interdependencies. Understand which require keen attention vs. which your company can easily withstand and that will only cause internal inconvenience. Are there some, where if managed uniquely, provide a competitive advantage in your marketplace? Are there some whereby virtue of strategic vendor selection and sourcing, you can reduce overall cost while simultaneously improving all relevant qualities? These are often all possible. See our article titled “Benefits of Reducing Your Vendor Footprint” for more.

The Product/Service Paradigm of Choosing “Less Than the Best”

Here too, this starts with how you might define “best” of a product or service.  The classic mix is a simplified version of the above:

    1. Vendor
    2. Product
    3. Price

So, now you’ve chosen the best widget. None finer. Any company would be proud to own it and you’re giving yourself a leg up. However, as asked in the vendor analysis above, what does the preceding list completely miss? Are there other widgets, systems, companies, etc. with which there is an interdependency?

In the largest of companies, the scale is present which justifies the engineering staff to design around these challenges of interdependencies by hiring coders that can program the software around your unique needs. There are environments, where due to a high degree of standardization and commoditization, choosing the best widget has little impact on interdependent components. An excellent example is that a Michelin tire will work virtually anywhere because the wheel and tire have been with us for seemingly forever with standards abounding; interdependency variables are virtually eliminated, but these are the exceptions.

Paradigm Consulting can help by looking at the environment in its entirety as a best practice. Contact us to discuss how we can help ensure you’re aligning with the best of the best.

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