Today’s research challenge is not a lack of information; it’s knowing where to start the search, which services provide the most reliable and current information or what represents a credible source.
So much information exists that researchers are often overwhelmed and paralyzed. The buyers of subscription-based services must base their purchase decisions around several factors to optimize value and consolidate purchasing power while ensuring that all their various users and departments can get the right information needed to do their jobs.
More than two options for computer-assisted research
Matching information resources to needs has become more complex because the options are more complex. We are finishing an update to our popular report, “In the beginning there were two”, which covers the latest on vendors, products and trends. This will be available to clients and anyone else interested in this subject area over the coming months.
In the meantime, let’s revisit some of the key steps buyers can take well before a renewal time or when they are considering a new subscription.
User needs and preferences versus business needs
Balancing user needs and preferences with organizational needs is another challenge. We find some of our clients struggling to educate their user groups and find common ground without being viewed as the bad guy. People often prefer certain tools, even if a different tool is an equal match and perfect substitute. Personal experience and knowledge combined with human nature to avoid change means users may try to stick with their preferences no matter what. On the flip side, there are services and solutions that provide greater efficiencies which may include a higher price.
There always needs to be a balance between organizational needs for budgets, information management, procurement processes, vendor and contract management, training and other considerations versus what users want. Using data to show them the value or lack thereof will often help your cause when dealing with employees. When making a decision, gather quantitative data that shows how similar resources have been used in the past. Qualitative feedback is also important, including internal focus groups or user surveys to understand their needs, likes and dislikes and potential concerns.
Quality, uniqueness and relevance of information
When assessing resources, providing information that is most relevant and meaningful to users should remain top-of-mind. Lawyers need case law; financial professionals need SEC filings or financial data on private companies; sales and marketing need market and competitive intelligence and the latest trending news; the list could go on and on.
Each information resource should be evaluated by the user community to ensure it meets their needs. It’s never a good idea to make this decision in a vacuum without feedback from those needing the information.
Licensing and negotiating the right price
Do you know what you don’t know?
For most electronic information vendors, there’s a lack of transparency around pricing and little basis for an apples-to-apples comparison. Most vendors do not publish pricing, this is the biggest problem for our clients. They assume they’re getting a great deal on a service; however, they have little intelligence to compare it to. Some don’t know what to ask for in their negotiations. Upfront license fees are a big factor, but customers may fail to account for renewal costs, ancillary charges, maintenance and support.
Finally, due to the number of different services they are often responsible for, buyers may forget an important part of the contract process, such as carefully reviewing terms and conditions to identify anything that is not in the organization’s best interest. Be sure to take the time and read the fine lines of the contract language and service level agreements or SLAs. Don’t be shy to include additional or customized terms, especially for new products.
Negotiate the right price
Discovering explanatory pricing gaps is essential to negotiating the right price. Most importantly, know that outside experts bring comprehensive vendor and industry knowledge, objective views and best practice advice that can be invaluable when considering an upcoming renewal or new service. Consultants like LAC spend management have the best intelligence in the market place when it comes to pricing, product knowledge and vendor strategy!
Prepare for contract renewals
Preparation is key for information management decision-makers facing a complex market of tools and services along with conflicting user preferences:
- Have one person or group within your organization in charge of the administration of all these services and platforms to ensure your subscription information is up to date.
- Share your resource expenditures with other departments to identify products that are offering similar services and functionality and restructure them accordingly for savings opportunities.
- Look into bundling opportunities that encompass purchases more holistically within the entire organization.
Getting help from information resource experts
It may also be prudent to call on an expert, such as LAC Group, to aid the process by providing detailed industry and vendor knowledge. We will ensure you’re maximizing the use of tools and technologies like termination notifications, usage tracking applications and contract management solutions to name a few. We can also assist with managing contracts, negotiating renewals and licenses and ensuring you’re getting the best mix of vendor services for your users’ needs while considering your budgetary expectations.
We’re unique in that we offer comprehensive and complementary services, both on spend management and administrative cost structures, as well as research and intelligence for law, business development and other information needs.
Matching information resources to user needs is becoming complex. We can help guide you through the many options available.