Developing the Willingness to Change Our EdTech Vendors

We stay with companies we shouldn't.  We stay too long.

May 2, 2013

My theory is that we are all too slow to change our edtech vendors. We stay with companies we shouldn't.  We stay too long. We stay after the product or service no longer meets our needs.  We would be better off being willing to rip out what we have and to start again.

Why are we too slow to move from the status quo? And why should we be more open to making changes?

3 Ideas:

1. Sunk Costs:   

How often do we think about all the time, money and work we have spent with the company we are working with now?  All that expense and time to get the product integrated with our platforms and systems. The work involved in learning the new system, in changing business processes, and in moving our community.   

All of those are valid concerns, but they should not determine your decision to stay with your current vendor. What you should be doing is only considering FUTURE GAINS AND BENEFITS (sorry for the yelling). Any cost you have invested in your current platform cannot be recovered. That is gone.  What you should be considering is do the future gains of switching to a new vendor outweigh the overall costs.   

2. Relationships:

If we are doing our jobs well we are getting to know our edtech partners as people, not just vendors. We like, admire and respect these people. We know that they are doing their best to create value, and that they have worked very hard to provide us with as good a product or service as possible. These relationships, however, should not stand in the way of us changing partners. If our current product or service no longer fits our needs, or if a different one would do a better job, then we should switch.

Try to keep in mind that the edtech world is extremely dynamic. Someone that you know and like who works today for company A may move tomorrow to company B. You should work hard to preserve strong relationships with the people who work for a company, even when you are taking your business elsewhere.

3. Reputation (Ours):

We are often hesitant to switch companies because we put so much of our own time, energy, and reputation into bringing the current company to campus. If we were the product or platform champion what does it mean that we are pushing for something different?   

The key, I think, is to get over ourselves. The edtech world moves quickly.  We need to make decisions with imperfect information. We need to move quickly, fail fast, and move on to what's next. Our own feelings should not stop us from doing what is right for our students, our faculty, and our staff. Take responsibility for any shortcomings. Own the problems. In the long run your colleagues will respect you more for doing what's right with edtech than stubbornly standing by your initial decisions.

What was the last big edtech vendor switch that you made?


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