Managing Vendors – Articles by Jim Everett

Tips on managing vendors, skills and competencies required

When a vendor disappoints…


What happens when the vendor you engaged does not meet your expectations? Maybe they did not deliver up to standard, were not as prompt or timely as you hoped, or were difficult to deal with. Sure, there are financial ways to offset this, but at the end of the day, the job did not get done the way you wanted. And this reflects on you.

Should it reflect on you? Can you truly “blame the vendor”? Sometimes blaming the vendor makes you look even worse, and does not necessarily lift their performance or strengthen the relationship. You could go get another vendor, but that is costly – all the experience they gained with you is lost, and there is a lead time to bring the new vendor up to speed.

If you defined the work, set the criteria for selecting the vendor, made the choice, then brought the vendor on board, then clearly you need to look at what went wrong in this process. Did they have the right skillset and capacity to do the work? Did you do proper due diligence in checking out their prior work? Did you set realistic delivery standards for the deal you hammered out. After all, a vendor you nailed to the wall with your hard-nosed bargain does not have much room to add value.

And how well prepared was your company for “docking” the vendor (as in a ship docking)? Were all the resources and connections organized? Was the vendor able to get the answers they needed from your company in a timely way to meet their deadlines? How good were your communications and briefings – did the vendor know all they needed to know or did you keep them guessing?

And so the list goes on. You can’t expect to grab the cheapest vendors, throw the work at them, keep them in the dark, trick them into fake early deadlines then extend them in dribs and drabs, be disorganized and unready to mesh with them, and still expect them to do the job they promised.

So, when a vendor disappoints you with their performance, ask yourself how much of that is your own performance?



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