Vendor management

Most organisations have a need to deal with a number of different computing and communications vendors, both for individual projects and on an ongoing basis. Usually, each vendor is selected for a particular class of product or service they provide that is most appropriate to the client organisation, with other vendors selected similarly for other classes of product or service—the main exceptions being multiple vendors selected in a particular product/service class for the purposes either of redundancy (business continuity) or of competition (panel arrangements), or legacy contracts inherited through mergers and acquisitions.

Like any commercial relationship, close attention needs to be paid to the effective management of these vendor relationships (or at the very least coordination of vendor efforts) in order to maximise their benefit to the organisation. As the number of different vendors and different technologies involved increases, the complexity of managing these relationships increases exponentially. Large corporations tend to have dedicated business units for doing just that (not just with computing & technology, but across all strategic suppliers). In smaller organisations, the need is just as great, but responsibility for it tends to fall on IT management, or even general management.

Sometimes, particularly in smaller organisations, it can all get a little confusing; not to mention that the individuals tasked with this responsibility in smaller organisations—usually senior management—tend to be extremely busy attending to more pressing business needs.

There are two alternatives to this.

One alternative is to select a single vendor large enough to meet all of the organisations computing and communications needs. However, this creates two new problems. Firstly, it is extremely unlikely that a single supplier will be able to provide the best solutions for all such needs—different suppliers tend to provide better solutions for different needs. Secondly, such single supplier arrangements tend to lead to vendor lock-in (a situation where the high level of dependence on the incumbent makes a future change of supplier extremely difficult), which is unacceptable to most organisations.

The other alternative is to retain a policy of using the best/most appropriate supplier for each class of product or service, but to outsource the management of projects undertaken by or ongoing relationships with most (or in some cases, even all) of the chosen vendors.

saosce provide just such a service, which is ideally positioned for most SMEs—those organisations which are large enough to encounter similar ICT issues to large corporates (albeit on a smaller scale), but not large enough to warrant dedicating an internal resource to vendor management.

For a confidential discussion of your organisation's ICT vendor management needs, call saosce today on (08) 8121 3075, or email us at