While I was writing my “Dear Management …” post, something was going on behind the scenes that inspired me to write another. We all have things we wish to say to vendors; this open letter picks some of the big points that they seem to invariably struggle with.
We want to use your products, otherwise we wouldn’t even be writing to you. But depending upon who you are, and what year it is, you are struggling to meet our needs.
We understand that your insistence that your new product or acquisition will solve all of the problems we don’t have is probably executive-driven, but give us the benefit of the doubt. We know our environment, and just because we use you for one thing does not automatically imply we want you to constantly push this other thing at us. By all means, tell us about your entire product line, but then back off. We will let you know if anything appears to fulfill a need.
While we’re chatting, can we discuss pricing? Not just cost, but the byzantine structures you create, time after time? If you are going to use 15 different charges and fees to jack up the price there, we’re paying the bill – we’ll see it. You’re far better served by being forthright. Do you have any idea how many stories like, “I am not funding your Ferrari with your commission,” stories (this was actually said; it was hilarious – we went with a competitor) are out there? And they keep occurring. Just this week, the phrase “Your pricing is bonkers!” was submitted to a company. We want a good product at a fair price, not a cheap price up front that will drain all of our budget over time.
Speaking of good products, let’s talk about security. Security issues with your product are our issues more urgently than they are yours. Don’t mess around; when notified, quantify the threat and notify us immediately, with suggested remediations until you can get a patch ready. Holding off until you can patch puts us in the unenviable position of being vulnerable and, worse, not even knowing we’re vulnerable. Use good coding practices so we’re not all caught off guard, and waive those secure coding requirements for no one. Interns and C-level execs are not professional coders (interns aren’t yet, and C-levels no longer are), and any code by these two groups needs to be reviewed by someone that knows your systems before they are sent to us for deployment. Don’t force bad updates on us. Do your best not to give us bad updates at all.
Finally, on the topic of forcing things on us – guess what? We have a need for a specific tool in a specific environment. Telling us that starting next month your services are all “moving to the cloud” does not suit all of our needs. We get it, you want that data. It’s all the rage right now. You should understand that, if you stop serving our needs in your quest for our data, we’ll go elsewhere, eventually, no matter how reluctantly. Cloud is a great platform, but most IT tools need the versatility to run where we need them, not just on one platform out of many.
And, as a side note, your AIOps generally isn’t. We know it’s the buzzword du jour, but honestly, if it’s basically the same product with some logic or a dashboard strapped on, that’s not AIOps, it’s normal product improvement. When you have deep data collection and analysis that uses trained algorithms, then you can join the crowd screaming AIOps. Until then, hush. You sound silly, and it undermines the rest of your messaging.
Just to reiterate: We have a need, show us how you fill it, and let us decide if that suits our requirements. Then tell us about your other offerings and back off. We’re smart enough to smell vaporware, stubborn enough to resist your desire to collect all of our data and wise enough to judge whether or not you and the product you’re pushing this week will be around in a year or two. You serve a purpose, and we’re grateful you are doing this stuff so we can focus on our business. But please, make life easier on us, not harder. And if one more of you sells a product we don’t need to the C-suite, we may explode. That Sword of Damocles that you raised over us will inevitably fall, and your company’s reputation will suffer for it. But we’ll pay the price for trying to implement something we didn’t need in the first place.