How CIOs Can Best Manage Vendor Relationships

How CIOs Can Best Manage Vendor Relationships

Maintaining open lines of communication, managing vendor relationships, and creating contracts are just a few of the duties that go into creating a vendor management process that, when done correctly, encourages business expansion and optimizes operations. All the activities and projects that support vendor relationships, provide dependable supply chains, and enhance production cycles are collectively referred to as vendor management.

Because today's IT agendas place a growing emphasis on vendor alliances, IT leaders should create vendor management procedures that prioritize alignment, cooperation, and maximizing value if they want to go beyond service level agreements (SLA’s) and into strategic partnerships. Furthermore, an IT leader's ability to manage and coordinate vendor relationships can make the difference between an organized and effective IT operation and one that costs a company millions of dollars and yields subpar outcomes.

CIO leaders should develop a thorough technology vendor management strategy that maximizes fit and value to guarantee that vendor relationships support their organizations' goals. In addition, CIO leaders now must consider vendors security profile as many cybersecurity insurance policies now require vendors to meet the same or similar requirements.

As seen in a recent article in CIO, I contributed a few essential pointers for optimizing vendor relationships, shared below.

Form proactive, cooperative alliances

Vendors can produce ideas that are individually tailored to a CIO’s business needs, but this is only possible if they know exactly what those needs are. To build a stronger relationship with vendors, CIOs should bring them into the fold regarding their priorities and potential concerns about what may —or may not — lie ahead, from a regulatory perspective or the general economic climate, for example.

A few years ago, supply-chain snags had CIOs looking for new technology. Lately, a talent shortage means CIOs are pushing for more automation. CIOs that don’t delay posing questions about how vendor products can solve such challenges, but also take the time to hear the information, will build a valuable rapport that can benefit both parties.

As partners in success, CIOs should communicate how they are planning and growing their business, so the vendor can help identify opportunities to use technology to facilitate that growth and share how the vendor is evolving its capabilities to help address the CIO’s business’s needs.

Keep a close eye on important collaboration metrics.

As the relationship progresses and business needs shift and change, metrics should be reassessed. This should be a continuous process, not something to do once or twice a year. To make sure that all parties are on the same page and goals are being either met or appropriately worked towards, regularly scheduled evaluation programs can be particularly valuable.

These can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly depending on project scope and necessity. And they should start at the outset of the working engagement so that long term both parties can see trends in the relationship and how they are impacting support and performance to adjust as needed.

CIOs should take the initiative to alter course in response to important performance data. They should speak with suppliers to make sure business goals are realistic and make sure that everyone agrees and is pursuing a specific, shared objective.

Maintain strict control over all transactional aspects.

CIOs should welcome vendors to help them not only adapt to the new technology and its impacts, but also to socialize across the organization for a more seamless integration. A CIO should share insights into their company culture, so that the vendor can also adapt their approach, [and] assign implementation managers whose work styles strongly match, to make sure they’re getting the most out of the product.

CIOs seeking to maintain their competitive edge and set themselves apart from the competition can benefit greatly from implementing a thorough approach to vendor management procedures and streamlining each stage of the vendor relationship experience.

Kevin Beasley

Chief Information Officer