Over the years, I’ve realized just how much my views on the ideal workplace impact how I select the vendors I work with. I remember selecting one of my first vendors at my last job and the CEO (a hugely-influential mentor of mine) suggesting I add a few questions to my vetting process. They stick with me today.
How big is the company? How quickly are they growing? There’s something to be said for selecting a vendor who is facing the same challenges you are as a business. For us, it was being a budget-conscious start-up trying to scale our team and culture quickly. I always felt just a bit better when working with a company our size or a little larger who had been through some of the challenges. It meant that any employee I spoke to – from sales-to-success-to-support had likely faced the same challenges our sales, success and support teams did. Their managers had the same demands. I just felt some level of comfort knowing my vendor knew my pain points really well.
How many customers do you have? What’s your target market? I tend to like start-ups with a solid base of customers, but not so many that I worry that once the sale is closed, they’ll vanish into the abyss and we’ll be up a creek for implementation and support. I also like to know that we’re in the market they are targeting or aiming towards – I don’t want to enter a relationship with a company if they are looking to move upstream from where I see my company in the near-future. If they are looking to really crush the market I’m in, I’m more likely to get service and see features related to my challenges.
Talk to me about your culture? What types of companies choose you? This is concert with me doing some research on my own about a company’s culture and values. I want to work with companies that care about creating a great experience for their employees, because I think it’ll mean better service for me and a product built to help me support an amazing culture. It cuts again to: “How can you serve me well if we’re trying to solve different problems or don’t align philosophically?”
I still look at tablestakes things like pricing and features, but with so many amazing HR Tech solutions on the market, I try to focus in on those supporting a similar purpose. I’m in the midst of selecting a performance management tool. There are dozens of solid options out there – each solving the problem a little bit differently and all potentially presenting a ton of value to my organization. The leading candidate, though, has about 150 clients and their content is really focused on culture more than performance management. Their tool does really neat things on its own, but it sure is reassuring to know that they are thinking about it as a solution not just to help with comp reviews or exiting people, but as a key component to building a high-performing culture.