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Can you trust your vendor?

It is a competitive market out there and the level of intensity is increasing! Bankers are trying to develop strategies in response to a changing competitive environment and up pops a take-it-or-leave-it response from a vendor!

It is a competitive market out there and the level of intensity is increasing! Bankers are trying to develop strategies in response to a changing competitive environment and up pops a take-it-or-leave-it response from a vendor!

The conversation goes like this: "We thought you wanted to be our partner and now you refuse to integrate our choice of billpay with your mobile banking product? What gives?" Continuing the dialogue, you explain that their product offering doesn't have the features you need and is not priced right, and now they tell you no to integration. Not going to happen.

 

After some insistence, the vendor agrees to integrate the system, but then comes the price tag to do so! It is not only high, but it is feels as though the vendor is punishing you because you want to run your bank! Oh, and the programming department will not be able to get to your integration request for at least six months even though the fee is required in full in advance.

 

From my point of view as an industry consultant, this is not a relationship!

 

The alarming thing is that I am seeing more of more of this type of vendor behavior. The occurrence of this form of impasse immediately erodes the basis of trust that existed before the confrontation. The result: institutions, more often than not, quietly begin to plan an exit strategy from the existing core application vendor provider. Their motivation, if the vendor is going to impede us or prevent us from effectively managing our institution, we need to find another vendor.

 

On the flip side, if a vendor insists that you take their product even if it is not competitive in price and features just because they want to protect their definition of technology space boundaries, you don't have a partner.

 

The essence of a solid relationship is understanding that you are not going to agree all of the time, but at the same time, the relationship should not be held hostage by either party. Punitive pricing, ultimatums, refusals or dilatory tactics, all used to force you to remain in the product family spell the inevitable demise of a relationship.

 

Note: when you begin to develop your Request For Proposal (RFP) be sure to put all of the above in the commentary section of the document. Define trust and associate it with the specific aspects of what you are looking for in a vendor. In addition, put it in the contract! That is a part of a relationship you can trust! 

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher is president and CEO of The Copper River Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Fargo, N. D., that focuses on technology and payment systems research and consulting for community financial institutions. For nearly 30 years, Fisher has worked in the financial industry using technology to improve the bottom line. He was CIO of Community First Bankshares (now part of Bank of the West), has served as a director of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis, the chairman of the American Bankers Association Payment Systems Committee, and was a member of the Independent Community Bankers of America Payments Committee. Fisher has written numerous articles on banking technology and the payments system. He has authored or co-authored six books and recently published a book titled, "Capturing Your Customer! The New Technology of Remote Deposit." You can contact Fisher at dan@copperrivergroup.com.
P.S. To understand Dan's nickname, check out "About the Wombat" on his website.       

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