When Vendor Location Shouldn’t Be a Deal Breaker: Tips for Selecting a Website Development Vendor

Sometimes it is absolutely critical to the way you do business that the vendor you work with is located nearby. But there are times when limiting your choices to those who are within your geographic area do not represent your best interests. In some cases, the key to selecting the right company to work with has more to do with your return on investment and almost nothing to do with where the vendor’s offices are anymore.

Given the wide array of communication possibilities – video conferencing, web conferencing, telephone, email, instant messenger, text messaging, etc. – selecting a vendor based on location should move down on your list of selection criteria importance.  Back in “the day”, location had real economic implications, but today, quality vendors should be able to provide you with verifiable, results orientated data that should hold a higher place in the decision making process than location.

So what are some of the things to consider when searching for candidates:

Human References: If a company can provide you with letters, testimonials or the opportunity to speak with a client, then use this information to gain insight into the kind of service and quality of product your candidate has produced in the past. Don’t be too concerned if they haven’t done a project exactly like yours. It’s not necessary. A competent company is capable of doing all jobs that are related to the kind of service it offers.

Resources: Look to see the kind of in-house resources the candidate has and what (if anything) has to be outsourced. It’s in you best interests to find a company that offers you a qualified, comprehensive team in-house that can do at least 90% of the work without the need for an outside vendor, or at least has the requisite relationships to ensure no delays or compromised quality due to an outside vendor, then that’s a good candidate to consider. Ultimately you want to get to know the team you will be working with and to have access to the team leaders. Remember to learn what you can about the project manager. This is the person who will be charged with coordinating and communicating all aspects of the project, ensuring timetables are met and the project remains within budget. This person is key to the successful realization of your project. ROTHCO, the world’s leading supplier of military and outdoor clothing, called our project management team at AIMG “worth its weight in gold.” Trust me, exceptional project management is a ‘must have.’

Support: Consider the degree to which your candidates have the capabilities to wholly support all aspects of your project from initial consultation through planning, development, design, content creation, and creative to post-launch enhancements, further business development and support. Are they just web designers or website developers?  Are they business and marketing specialists as well? Do they specialize only in online or do they know how to maintain consistency of materials and campaigns across collateral marketing and branding media?

Communications: Look to see what type of communication systems are in place that work to keep your project organized, your concerns promptly addressed, and all deliverables associated with the project readily available. If you have a question you will want to know it can be answered accurately and promptly. If you have images or different versions of a document to review, you will want to know that everything is in a safe and easily accessible place available to you and your administrators.

Product: Take a critical look at what your candidates have produced. Does it meet your level of professionalism? Does the quality of what you’re seeing give you confidence that they have the ability to bring new and fresh ideas to the table that open up possibilities you had not thought of? The quality of the work you are seeing should let you know that you are gaining a skillful team that will partner with you. You should know that the team is capable and willing to get to know your business so thoroughly that you are able to have a high level conversation about the things that are important to you.

Achieving your goals is dependent upon the quality and capabilities of the vendor you choose, not his location. Free yourself to focus on other business matters by selecting a vendor that has the requisite qualities to get the job done based not on office visits but on his capabilities and quality of work produced.