Guide

Choose an IT supplier for your business

Find potential IT suppliers

IT supplier selection process involves everything from doing market research and negotiating pricing, to establishing terms and conditions of services. It usually starts with specifying your IT requirements.

Step 1: Decide on your IT requirements

Before you buy any IT equipment or service, set your requirements and document them in detail. Define the products, equipment or services you need, and explain why you need them. Decide which requirements are essential and which are optional. Give potential suppliers your requirements document. This will provide a framework to compare the different quotations you may receive.

Step 2: Research IT solutions and suppliers

After setting your requirements, research your options. Compile a list of possible suppliers and identify three to five who can propose a solution for the budget you have set. Sources of information include:

  • the internet, including the suppliers' own websites as well as independent sites
  • recommendations from trusted colleagues
  • recommendations from trading and business partners
  • IT seminars and conferences
  • computer trade magazines
  • advice from relevant trade associations and professional bodies
  • IT exhibitions

Step 3: Contact potential suppliers

After identifying the potential suppliers, send them either a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for quotation (RFQ).

Request for proposal

The RFP asks for suppliers to submit formal proposals. It should include:

  • the agreed statement of requirements
  • an indication of what format the proposal should follow
  • an indication of the level of detail required in the proposal
  • the timescales within which the proposal should be submitted
  • the procedure for suppliers to request further information, if needed

Request for quotation

The RFQ asks potential suppliers to provide a cost for the desired product or service. You send solicitations to possible suppliers with your list of requirements, for example:

  • part descriptions, specifications or numbers
  • quantities or volumes
  • a description or drawings of the product needed
  • personnel skills or competencies for the product or service
  • terms and conditions
  • term of the contract
  • any other value-added requirements or terms
  • delivery requirements
  • a draft contract

After you send requests and receive responses from interested parties, you will have to shortlist the candidates. Often, at this stage, you can ask them to provide presentations or demonstrations of their products and services to help with final selection. See questions to ask a potential IT supplier.

To continue the selection process, you will then have to evaluate IT supplier proposals.