Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Mishandling vendor/product evaluations can be a 'career-limiting move'

By Alan Earls

Dick Bannister may have an axe to grind -- but he also has a point. As principal of the Colorado-based Evaluator Group, he is in the business of helping companies choose from among the sometimes-bewildering array of storage technologies on offer. So, when he offers career advice about evaluating products and services, he is not exactly objective.

Yet, it is clear he knows what he is talking about when he says that evaluating vendor offerings is not something anyone should tackle without doing their homework first. The stakes are high. And, more to the point, when choices work out poorly, the consequences stay visible for a long time. Careers in the industry can be made or broken, in part, by the quality and repercussions of vendor or product decisions you've helped to make.

To avoid a waltz into that particular buzz-saw, Bannister says, at a minimum, you should take time to learn about what's available and what different vendors offer. It's a matter of book learning, talking to experts, and maybe even ponying up the money for some good analyst reports. Above all, look before you leap. Get input from others in your organization, align technology and business objectives, and build a solid requirements document before you begin the process of formally evaluating vendor proposals or products.

Of course, says Bannister, you can also simply hire an expert. He points out that the cost of using an expert in this area is then shared by many of the expert's customers.

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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer based in Franklin, Mass.

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