Choosing a new supplier is as fraught and as tempestuous as the forging of any new personal relationship. Optimism and blind faith combine with fear, uncertainty and doubt - and never more so in this e-business era, with its new breeds of suppliers, products and issues. Underlying everything is cultural change and a strong sense of urgency.
Against this backdrop it's easy to forget one core principle: that the software and hardware cost is irrelevant. What's really important is the overall cost of getting the whole job done - implementation, skilling, development, acceptance.
Both sides need to be clear about the benefits. Ideally there should be shared risk mixed with shared benefit, especially in a global corporate deal.
Gut feel does have an important role even in the cyber age. So body language and attitude during negotiation is important.
How much effort have the suppliers made, how much effort have they made to get a handle on your industry, your company, your people, your direction and your problems?
The strongest sense of commitment often comes out during the pressures of a site visit, when the focus on the softer issues can help achieve a mutually beneficial, enriching relationship. The alternative is bleak - wham, bang, no thanks and a large bill.