Planning for the Future Means Knowing the Players

By Helen Streck posted 10-23-2010 22:07


In less than two weeks the ARMA International Annual Conference will be held in San Francisco, California.  Along with a host of educational classes and social events to attend, the Conference will also have a two-day vendor exhibit.  If your company is considering adding electronic records management systems or document managements systems to improve compliance and control, then attending ARMA’s exhibits to learn who the players are is a beginning step.

What I have learned is that no two vendors are exactly the same in system requirements, service offerings or maintenance plans.  Those differences are what help information management professionals discern what they need versus what would be nice to have.  And the first step in know what is even available is learning who are the players.

I encourage attendees to stop and ask each vendor what their software does, what category of software is it – is it a document management system, is it a records management system, or something else.  Don’t hesitate to throw the vendors a couple of hardball questions.  They are probably expecting it.  Many hope you will engage them in conversation.  Ask the vendor who is their primary competition and why.

By finding out who is in the category of vendor you are considering for future purchase, you will have more robust request for information or proposal process.  You may find a vendor on the floor who has a better solution than one of the current vendors who is courting you.  If you have not started the process of seeing who is a potential vendor for your future plans, visiting the exhibitor during the ARMA Conference may provide you with a potential list. 

I have met vendors and later included them in request for proposals after I had visited their booth at the ARMA Conference.  It has been a great experience for me.  I try to set aside a couple of hours so to spend quality time with several vendors.  Visiting a vendor, taking the time to really understand what their solution can and cannot do is time well spent.  I have found that those conversations have aided me in defining what I needed a system to do and what I would like it to do if it did not require customization.

So stop, visit the vendors and let me know what you think.  Did you find the answer you needed? Are you better prepared to plan for future technology changes? Why or why not?

#technology #ARMA #vendors #ElectronicRecordsManagement