# Comparing and Evaluating Collaboration Vendors

A few weeks ago I wrote the first part of this series on how to evaluate collaboration vendors by looking at eight specific variables. Today we are going to take that one step further by actually comparing how a scoring model can be used to help your organization select the best vendor.

Just to recap, the eight collaboration variables that all vendors compete against are:

• Ease of use and intuitiveness
• Price
• Features
• Technology and security
• Customization and integration
• People
• Support and maintenance
• Vertical expertise

Let’s break this up into a few simple steps:

## Step 1 - Sort Variables by Order of Importance

Not every organization is going to order these eight variables in the same way. For example, at your company “price” might be the most important thing to consider whereas at another company it might be “technology and security,” so order these accordingly. This is all done in column one.

## Step 2 - Assign a “Weight” to Each Variable

You can do this however you want. To keep things simple I just assigned numbers 1 through 8 but some companies do this as fractions as well. This gives you the ability to address slight differences between each variable. This is all done in column two.

## Step 3 - Rate the Vendor on Each Variable

To keep things simple we can use a simple 0 through 3 scale where 0 denotes a vendor that is severely lacking in an area and a 3 denotes a vendor who meets all of your needs in an area. Essentially what you are doing here is figuring how important each vendor variable is in relation to the others. This is shown in column three.

## Step 4 - Create your Weighted Score

All you need to do now is multiply columns two and three together to get a number in column four. Once you do that, just go down the column and add all of the numbers together. Doing so in my example results in 75. This is seen in column four.

Here’s a visual to help guide through the process:

This is a fairly simple model you can use to compare several vendors against each other. In fact, you can easily do this in excel. Ultimately the goal is to compare vendors objectively to determine who the best fit for your company is — this model allows you to do just that.

I’d recommend getting a few people together to go through this, ideally whoever is running your collaboration initiative. There is also plenty of room for manipulation and addition to this model so customize it and mold it to the needs of your organization and your team.

The challenge that many organizations are faced with today around vendor selection is that there is no concrete way to figure out who the best vendor really is. In my previous post I talked about how many of the vendors today are starting to look and sound just like each other. This makes vendor selection a challenge.

But now that we know what the eight variables are that all vendors compete against and how to evaluate vendors based on these variables, we should hopefully have a more concrete, practical and objective approach to selecting the best enterprise collaboration vendor.

Editor's Note: Interested in reading more of Jacob's thoughts on collaboration? Check out 12 Common Patterns that Make Some Companies Successful with Collaboration

Jacob Morgan is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Collaborative Organization, which has been endorsed by leaders such as the former CIO of the USA, CMO of Dell, CEO of Unisys, CMO of SAP, Chair of the MIT Sloan Management Review and dozens of others. Jacob is also the Principal and Co-founder of Chess Media Group, a management consultancy and strategic advisory firm on employee, customer, and partner collaboration.

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