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How to choose the right vendor partners

Chris Dobinson | Oct. 31, 2016
UK CIOs share their tips on working with vendors and how it can develop for long-term success in the business.

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As a CIO developing relationships has become part of a daily routine for the digital leader.

However, the relationship with vendors can be some of the most important relationships to develop within your business.

Partnering with vendors and third party suppliers can bring support and expertise as well as further knowledge and materials into the organisation.

CIO UK shares CIO's top tips on working with vendors and how to develop vendor relationships for long-term success in the business. 


The need for research is mandatory with a CIO having several choices for who to partner with in the organisation.

Taking the time to examine what the partnership can bring to the company will determine what you need from the vendor; but also what the business can bring to the relationship.

In organisations, digital teams cannot be expected to know everything from sourcing, costs and materials, and CIO Andy Caddy has seen his smaller digital team use their vendor relationship to help expand their brand at Virgin Active.

"We are too small to be of importance for the very large vendors, so we choose mid-tier providers who value the relationship and the Virgin brand," he said. "It is important that we get vendors to work as partners in providing value above and beyond an individual piece of software or infrastructure."

Virgin Active is currently using its partnership to help build their "core" technology and ensure that the organisation can find the "right" skills.

"The relationship has opened up a large pool of resource to help us in different areas and develop on further digital technologies such as fitness, IoT and VR," he said.

Test the water

A CIO wants to ensure the relationship will bring a low cost and low-risk delivery in products.

When picking the right vendor it is important to have a trial run. This will help the CIO if they can work together long-term in ensuring it is a good fit for the organisation in trying the partner's products and services.

Vendors should be made to pitch their products and services to the organisation while a CIO should also have a checklist of requirements which are needed to be met.

A CIO's engagement with the product is beneficial by stepping into the customer's shoes and using the service first hand.

The trial will give feedback from colleagues as well as signposting how the partnership can align with the business strategy.

Communicate a clear vision

A vital skill is communication of what the organisation needs from the relationship and how it can develop both businesses.

A clear communication is needed if the project timeline is delayed or if a challenge arises in the project. Being in the loop can inform the organisation in working together to help provide a solution.


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