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Managing Vendor Issues

Part II

Read Part I of our story for background information.

In this Part, we’ll share how we used this information to develop an action plan for resolving our vendor issues.

Much of the time, as we learned from doing a bit of research at this client, problems with vendors do not solely reside with the vendor, but are also driven by internal issues in the organization. In this case, we learned the internal issues were primary a matter of training and communication lapses. Based on the information gathered, the following was put in place to better manage (and maybe even avoid) vendor issues going forward:

  • All individuals working with vendors would be trained on conflict management, negotiation and problem solving skills.
  • A Sharepoint site, already used within the organization, would be used to house vendor SLAs and other contracts/agreements as well as providing information around main points of contact at vendors and points of contact within the organization of individuals who have worked with those vendors. This site would also include information about the vendor and potential risks/problems that may arise based on past work with the vendor. This site would include information about past vendor issues and how they were managed/resolved (lessons learned.)
  • All individuals, prior to beginning a project with a vendor, would be required to review the SLA with the vendor as part of a vendor “kick-off” meeting. This meeting would review the project scope and specifically what was in and out of scope with the vendor as well as set expectations both on the vendor side as well as the organizational side. Vendors would also be brought on to the project at the very start of each initiative and be part of the team kick-off meeting.
    • Schedules/timing would be developed in collaboration with the vendor rather than dictating to the vendor a schedule for the project. The negotiation training would help company employees to better negotiate and work with vendors to come to agreement on schedules/timing.
  • The organization was going to schedule a vendor evening where all active vendors would be invited in to meet with employees from within the organization. This would help to build stronger relationships with vendors.

On the vendor side, the organization, working in collaboration with each vendor, determined the following would happen:

  • The vendor would provide one primary point of contact for working with the organization as well as one secondary point of contact.
  • Annual vendor meetings would be scheduled as they had been in the past in order to enable for relationship building between vendors and the organization. In fact, the evening meeting discussed earlier would be the start of the annual meetings.
  • Vendors would be provided information around points of contact within the organization. Each vendor would have a primary and secondary point of contact.

In Part 3, we’ll cover the outcome of the first few meetings between vendors and company employees.

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