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6 steps to optimise your vendor relationships

Bob Ronan | June 23, 2015
Creating strong partnerships with vendors can be an important factor in determining whether organizations achieve their objectives. Here are six steps companies can take to maximize the results they get from their vendors.

5) Treat on-site vendors as part of your team

Too many managers segregate their workforces into employees and non-employees. To give an example, some executives exclude contractors from all-hands meetings, but I suggest inviting both employees and contractors. I want the contractors to know what is going on and to feel like they are a part of the team. Yes, I know they are going to go back to their desks and file reports with their organizations, but I think the benefits are worth it. Are you really going to talk about something at an all-hands meeting that you don't want to get out? Probably not.

6) Share business strategies with your vendors

Lots of people do this, but in my experience, much of it is "check the box" on both sides. I did this early in my career by giving vendors a recent presentation on the organization. While this might have been interesting, I think most of it was forgotten by the time the vendors reached their cars. Instead, it is worth the time to customize a presentation. Talk about the problems you have that you don't know how you are going to solve. You may be surprised at the result.

As an example, I once had a team that maintained an old mainframe system. At a vendor briefing, I told the vendor I was worried about how fragile the system was, and I wasn't sure how to improve the stability without introducing additional problems. The vendor shocked me by saying they had a legacy modernization team in India that took systems like ours, managed the production processes for three years, reengineered the system into modern technology during this time and then handed back the "new" system. While we ultimately decided not to use their services, they provided me with a viable option that I never knew existed.

3 keys to great vendor relationships

I have a good friend who has been a successful vendor for many years. In his opinion, there are three keys to a great vendor relationship: trust between the vendor and client is the foundation of all vendor relationships; honesty is required on both sides so tough questions receive the right answers (even if they are not the answers that were hoped for); and responsiveness to each other's issues and concerns is critical. The tips in this article will help you build these satisfying longterm relationships and make a big difference in the results you achieve with your vendors. 


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