As I was sitting at my desk this morning, struggling with some issues and a vendor I had a thought. This is always dangerous territory for me.
Can social media/networking benefit government agencies, specifically police departments in the decision making process of selecting a vendor for a particular solution?
I believe the answer is a resounding yes. But of course, it has it’s limitations. Right now for instance, the number of police departments leveraging social media is limited. Those limitations transfer directly to the effectiveness of this thought process.
When an agency publishes a request for proposal and describes their needs, many companies jump at the chance to provide the solution. Sometimes, even stepping outside their area of expertise to gain the contract.
These same companies will gladly offer “references” for their benefit. These may not be a good cross representation of the company.
Were an agency to go out over a social media outlet and request feedback about a company, they may get a better representation of that company and the kinds of service they provide.
I recently experienced this. I spoke with my counterpart at another police agency and asked which solution provider he was using for a particular application, and why he chose them. Granted it wasn’t through social media but the application is the same.
He provided an excellent sales pitch for the company, provided a wealth of information about the company, it’s services and some very positive feedback about the product.
I was able to take this information, couple it with quotes and other documents and secure funding for my project. The company ended up with a new client and hopefully, we end up with a solution that makes my users happy.
At the end of the day, a couple of things were noted.
1. They vendor didn’t have to sell much. It was pretty much “sold” when I called them.
2. My end users have a friendly user base in a neighboring city, whom they communicate with often anyway.
3. A lot of leg work was saved by talking to USERS vice sales people.
4. We as an agency are gladly paying the fees for this service and solution since we know, from our peers that it is valuable and worth the money.
All in all it’s a win/win situation for everyone concerned.