Posted in: Tips, Tricks, & Best Practices for Festival Organizers Uncategorized on April 10, 2017 by Natasha Hillier
After reading Part 1 of this series you should now have a good understanding of the steps you should take to prepare your team and understand your needs for new technology. Next, you want to take steps to ensure you are making the best decision for your organization but do it quickly enough to take advantage of the benefits before it is too late.
Research a few products in the space
Once you decide what type of technology you require, you need to check out your options. Ask around your networks for what tools others are using and do your own research as well. If you are a member of an association perhaps there are discounts available for certain products as well.
As you do your research be sure to keep good track of what products you have reviewed, including details about pricing and which needs from your assessment the product satisfies. You may think you will remember which product does what but after you review a few they will all start to meld together. You may even want to develop a list of criteria with your team alongside the needs assessment so you can determine what company is going to be the best fit. Sometimes, the functionality can be there but it might be hard to use or the support that’s offered isn’t adequate so these are things you should also consider as you review products.
Also, remember from Part 1, under Managing Expectations, that you need to be realistic about how many things on your list the solution will be able to address. Consider the most important ones first and don’t lose sight of the original problem that you are trying to solve in the first place.
Consider the company
When reviewing your options it is important to not only consider the technology but the company as well. If you don’t feel important in the purchasing process, imagine how you will feel over time once they have your money. You want to make sure you understand the company’s values as well as customer service and support standards.
One important area to consider is how long a provider has been in business.
Tech startups are obviously essential to the space but by their nature startups unfortunately have a very high rate of failure as well, particularly within their first few years. It is during these years that startups are building their system out for the first time, going through their initial implementations with events, making costly mistakes, all while having to sell enough of their product to satisfy their investors, maintain an effective team of professionals and to keep the lights on.
Young companies have high pressure on them to build an initial client base and so may be prone to over-promising on their capabilities, which could leave your festival or event in a predicament if later the provider is unable to deliver on what they promised to bring you on board.
Some good questions to ask here would be:
- How long has the provider been in business?
- What is the size of the team?
- Have any festivals or events used your technology for more than 2 or 3 years in a row?
That said – every technology provider has to start somewhere and many do go on to have great success. One potential upside to using a new startup provider is that you may be able to provide some direct input into their features as they are building them. You may also find some cheaper prices with new startups as they are actively working to build the initial client base and could offer lower prices than competitors to get you onboard in hopes that you will work together for a number of years.
Ask tough questions
If you are wondering about something, ask it!
- What happens to my data if you stop selling this product?
- What is your backup strategy?
- What kind of response time can I expect when a problem arises?
- Are there any hidden fees?
- If I need custom work done what is the process?
- What are your security standards/ certifications?
Questions like these will tell you a lot about a company based on how they answer them. Do they skate around them or do they send you more detailed information? You can decide yourself what is a satisfactory answer.
Talk to current customers
You can read testimonials on the website until the cows come home, and the company can refer you to people for references, but usually that is all information they want you to access. If possible you want to talk to someone you know in the space using that technology to get some real feedback on how it is working for them.
Make a timely decision
There is a delicate balance here between doing your research and delaying the process. You want to carve out enough time to pick your product in a timely manner, otherwise you could lose out on benefits due to lack of time to implement. We have often seen what we call “Decision Paralysis” where a festival took months to make a decision and by the time they decided it was too late to take advantage of the majority of the features they spent so long determining they needed.
You also need to consider the approval process timeline in all of this. If you know once you make your decision that it needs to get approved by the board than ensure to factor that into the process.
Read the contract & terms of service
Every company will have a contract and terms of service that you should read in detail before signing. You want to be sure there is no fine print that you will be surprised by at a later date. Things such as hidden fees, cancellation policies and data security processes are usually outlined in these terms and are very important.
If, during the purchasing process, the supplier has made commitments such as adjustments to the technology, a discounted price or a multi year agreement, you want to be sure those are also included in the contract.
Now that your that you have made your purchasing decision you are ready to put your new technology to work. In Part 3 we cover some tips for a successful implementation of your tech in time for your event.