By Chris Wilkins, CEO, DVT

Building and maintaining software is an expensive and complex business. Because of the complexities involved, there are many ways to achieve the desired outcomes, and everyone has an opinion on how to do it.

The relationship between third party service providers, commonly called “vendors” in South Africa, and their clients, requires a dollop of healthy tension. This tension keeps the price fair and the working relationships productive.

In addition to fair pricing and productive relationships, clients often require advice and input on a regular basis. This advice can be ad-hoc and informal, or it can be structured and presented as part of a formal decision-making process. It’s important to remember that advice can be heard or ignored, but always as the recipient sees fit.

A hot topic of discussion is often whether a person or vendor can truly offer independent advice. The answer is a resounding “no”. This is because neither individuals nor companies are ever truly independent. How can we be?

We all have an interest in seeing our “independent” advice influencing an outcome. This may be due to professional pride, commercial interests, or other reasons. There may be some philosophical debate about true independence, but the debate will have to prove that individual consultants or third party vendors can truly be pure in heart and mind when engaging in commercial activities with a paying client. This could be difficult to prove.

We can make all this much easier if we accept that there is no truly “independent” advice available.

What we really want is a range of biased opinions that allow us to offset many different views and professional experiences. We need to absorb a comprehensive range of advice on the subject so that the chances of selecting and acting on the right information are high. The heart of the matter is having the skill to absorb all this information, make sense of it and – critically – make a decision.

Truly great companies and people will seek as much information on a subject as they possibly can before making a decision, especially when it comes to the murky and often misunderstood workings of large, expensive software investments.