Managing Vendors – Articles by Jim Everett

Tips on managing vendors, skills and competencies required

IT Professionals Manage Vendors


Outsourcing deals can show better returns; higher quality work by vendors can be managed with less conflict and disruption, where the IT professionals managing the vendors have the understanding and skills to perform effectively in that role.

After preparing for a career in technology, and keeping their technology skills honed, many IT professionals find themselves becoming managers of outsourced activities. Even if they take training in project management, traditionally part of the IT professional’s repertoire, what is covered there is only partly useful for this role on managing vendors.

For some professionals, this is an exciting opportunity to learn and exercise new managerial and liaison skills, and to impact a broader delivery base than they otherwise might as an individual contributor. It can get them connected with outside experts, and wield a larger budget.

For others it is at best a disappointment, and at worst a nightmare. Suddenly they no longer have direct access to the people who do the work. They have to focus on deliverables and project deadlines, and deal with vendors whom they are convinced are out to gouge the company at every turn. Agreements, contracts, budgets, negotiations – not what they studied for!

Managing outcomes, service levels and results requires a different mindset. Ultimately, all management is about getting results. Yet, under traditional inhouse management models, less effective managers can get around the problem of grasping outcomes and results by simply managing behaviors.

Knowing what a worker is expected to do, a manager simply manages that person’s activities and behaviors. The fact that this delivers results is partly incidental. Vendor management is different – a manager can no longer manage behaviors, but must look to results, outcomes, deliverables and service levels.

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About Think180

Think180 helps companies get best results with service providers (vendors). Our core product is an in-house customizable workshop for Vendor Managers, or entire teams who outsource. This has been run for many clients, including Palm, Philips, Harrah's, BP USA and Canada, Vantive, Alkermes, Avaya, Government of Canada, Fidelity Investments, Quantlab and others.

We now also can offer live and interactive videoconference services and webinars, Training Modules for team events, planning tools and consulting on Vendor Manager competencies, and 1:1 coaching for individuals with videochat (desktop and mobile) on managing vendors.

Call Jim Everett 310.346.8042 for more information to assess if these service are of value to you.

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