In parts 1, 2 and 3 of this blog I discussed what I think are the keys to choosing a DevOps tool that works best for your organization and how to ensure that the tool adoption and subsequent process changes will be successful. In this final part 4 of my blog I will divulge to you a few vendor secrets…
#4 – An individual vendor is there to make a sale. Do your homework ahead of time. Nobody wants this process to take longer than it needs to.
As soon as you contact a vendor their sales person will contact you right back. Hopefully the sales person will be respectful and reasonable, but they will be persistent in reaching you. A typical sales cycle goes like this:
- The vendor **should** start with gathering your requirements (again back to #1).
- The vendor will do a presentation/demo that explains how their software will meet your requirements.
- The vendor will then propose a proof of concept (PoC) where they come to you to evaluate their software within your organization.
- Upon a successful PoC, the vendor will push and push and push to close the proposed deal
- This is when the procurement process really kicks into high gear. Contracts need to be reviewed and agreed upon. POs need to be evaluated and signed.
- The purchase is made, you have access to the software, and now the real fun begins J
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As you can imagine, this is a significant amount of time and resources on the part of the vendor AND on your part. Be respectful and reasonable. Hopefully the vendor is as well. If you find a show stopper explain it to the vendor and part ways gracefully. A funny secret about this business is that it’s a small world and technology is cyclical (case in point look at IBM’s 100 year history with its ups and downs). Time is one of the most valuable resources that we have, so let’s not waste it.
Finally, I’ll end with a secret that no vendor wants to tell you: “Given enough time, effort and resources, you could make ANY tool work for you”. No seriously! Unless you’re considering some mom and pop, brand new, open source, one off, mystical magic wand tool, the odds are that you have a team who is capable of making anything work given enough time, attention, and desire to make it work. That’s the honest secret that no individual tool vendor will tell you. So when you finally do make a decision, be happy and confident with that decision and then do everything in your power to ensure that decision results in a successful adoption.
Have you checked 3rd party research from Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, etc. on the tools you are considering? The reality is that most DevOps tools have become very mature over the years. The top 3 to 6 tools that most organizations consider have all hovered around each other in 3rd party research over the past several years. Also, the open source community has made strides over the past number of years. It’s like buying a pickup truck for the purpose of hauling a load of bricks. Are you going to buy the F150, Silverado, or Ridgeline? You can get them all for around the same price and they’ll all haul the same amount of bricks. So how do you choose?
Now I’ve come full circle in this blog. The best way to decide within your organization is to have all the facts straight (blog part 1), understand what is your process for acquiring a tool (blog part 2), get the right people who will back, support, and lead your decision (blog part 3), and finally with the maturity of the market, if you leverage 1, 2, and 3 you should be confident that you will be successful with your decision. Good luck!!
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