Hard questions need a common language
You may think you know what you want from a TOS, but a lot comes down to negotiation to avoid unneccesary add-ons and to benefit from a vendor's knowledge.
“The worst thing you can do is combine everything in one tender and then stand back, saying: ‘you’re selling me the system, so you’re the expert’,” says Nico Berx of NB Solutions.
He adds that there’s always going to be a bit of tension when tendering for a TOS, but the vendor brings another layer of expertise to the table. So, although it may be uncomfortable it’s probably the right point to ask some hard questions about the existing processes actual contribution to the profitability of the terminal.
However, this level of communication needs a common language, metaphorically and literally, between vendor and client. Mr Berx says: “You need a cultural match: obviously if the vendor’s team leader is the only person speaking the same language as the client it just isn’t going to work out well. But this match goes beyond the obvious; it also helps if the customer understands and is comfortable with the long term strategy of the vendor too.”
Lastly, Mr Berx says that although it might be tempting to think you can develop your own system and avoid all this, DIY jobs are no answer. Costs rocket, and while all the features and functionality may be there it just takes a new machine or another organisation to interface with and suddenly the fit is not there anymore. “You can’t do as good a job as if you buy one in which the interfaces are business ready,” says Mr Berx.
Constantine Sokolov of Solvo adds: “Building a programme in the 21st century from scratch is akin to inventing Windows or the IPhone anew.”
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