Buyers are From Saturn, Sellers are From Jupiter: Navigating the Vendor/Client Relationship

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

Watch This Session

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Implementing effective instructional technology for your campus is a challenging process with many potential barriers. Come learn from our experiences navigating our complex vendor/client relationships.


Jeffrey Hargroder is the Instructional Technologist in the Office of Distance Learning at University of Louisiana at Lafayette . Jeffrey uses his background in training, prepress and videography as he works with the faculty in integrating technology into their courses.

Extended Abstract

Title: Buyers are from Saturn, Sellers are from Jupiter: Navigating the Vendor/Client Relationship

Authors: Claire Arabie, Luke Dowden, Carey Hamburg, & Jefre Hargroder

Presentation Description and Goals

Innovations in educational technology seem so shiny and enticing at first. The romantic and even seductive promises of new technology solutions can be irresistible. As these tools become more sophisticated and expensive, the decision to adopt them (or not) becomes all the more critical. The process to effectively evaluate innovative technologies and their providers is complicated and tedious, but neglecting this task can be regretful and expensive.

As with any successful relationship, communication and understanding are key. Navigating the innovation decision process together can be rewarding and beneficial to all involved, but can also be a source of conflict, disappointment, and frustration. Technology implementation decisions are too important and expensive to attempt without a roadmap and practical guides from those who have traveled that road before.

During the creation and expansion of our Distance Learning program, our staff has participated in technology evaluation and implementation efforts for various tools such as lecture capture, teleconference, remote proctoring, student authentication services, and our course management system upgrades. We have celebrated our successes and learned from our challenges. Although these technology tools have been different in their capabilities and requirements, the process of exploring options, evaluating competing products, gaining faculty buy-in, and moving forward with installations has proven to be very similar. Through this experience, our staff has honed a consistent, proven approach to apply on current and future innovation efforts.

Come learn from our successes and our missteps. At some stages in the process, the goals of buyer and seller align. At other stages they can be at odds. At all stages, the differences in language, priorities, and organizational culture can be sources of misunderstanding and delay. Using Everett Rogers' model for Innovation Adoption Decision as a framework, we will outline and discuss what we have found to be the important considerations and milestones to address at each stage of the adoption and implementation process. With best-practice examples from our own experience, case studies, and other research, we will consider the differing needs and perspectives of both the customer and the vendor in all five stages of the process:

Knowledge Stage - (Getting to know you . . .) - Institutions need to learn more about what product or service is being offered, and vendors need to learn more about the potential partner institution.
Persuasion Stage- (Candy & Roses) - Both sides evaluate the benefits and costs of moving forward with any technology implementation.
Decision Stage- (Changing our Relationship Status) - When the romance stage is over, it comes down to the point of yes, no, or let's wait a bit.
Implementation Stage - (Picking out the Curtains and Wallpaper) - This is the stage where many relationships get cemented closely or fall apart completely. Questions of training, compatibility, communication, and managing expectations are key to both sides.
Confirmation Stage- (perpetual bliss or "We need to talk . . .") - the long-term relationship with any technology provider is an iterative process with periodic evaluations. In addition to the questions of satisfaction and effectiveness, new developments such as price changes, shifting priorities, and the arrival of new technology interests are important to address. Celebrate the success, or know when to let go . . .

Presentation Outcomes and Take-Aways:
* Recognize and describe the five stages of the decision process
* Identify critical questions to ask / answer at each stage
* Apply tips for creating and managing effective partnerships
* Stage-by-Stage progress checklist and tip sheet
* Guide to important terminology and concepts