Vendors are a crucial part of the success of any business, regardless of the industry. Understanding best practices to use to manage your IT vendors is an essential component of making sure you get the most out of your relationships and puts your company in the best position to succeed. Failing to follow sound practices for managing your IT vendors can have a negative effect on your business. Here are five best practices for IT vendor management.

1. Do a Needs Assessment

Do a Needs Assessment
Step one of the IT vendor management process is knowing how to select the right vendor for the right reason. It can be a complex undertaking and due diligence is required to ensure that you have mapped out your needs to the best of your ability before beginning the selection process. Your needs list should include a look forward to ensure that the intended solution will suffice for a period of time going forward (usually 3-5 years).

2. Analyze Prospective IT Vendors

It is crucial to look past the marketing flash and sales pitch to get actual data and facts on what they have to offer. Ask questions specific to your needs and don’t be afraid to drill in to ensure their level of expertise. Search for reviews online and ask for referrals to get an idea of their customer satisfaction ratings.  Keep in mind that a thorough comparison of your needs and the services being offered can often lead to a solution provider that wasn’t on your initial target list. vCom does hundreds of vendor selection projects a year for our clients and we often find that an outlier, someone not on the clients’ original “short list,” has the best solution for their needs.

3. Continue to Analyze IT Vendor Performance

Continue to Analyze IT Vendor Performance
The analytical work doesn’t stop once the contract is signed. Continual monitoring of your IT vendor(s) performance is required from the very beginning of the relationship. Watch for responsiveness, shipping times, service quality, and order completion, among others. If you have an account rep or executive charged with handling your account, make sure they know what you’re expecting.

4. Push for the Proactive

Do you find out your contract is up two days before your service cut-off date? Or do you find a “mysterious” charge on your expense report because you’ve been auto-renewed without any prior notification? Unfortunately it’s often on you to make sure that these types of scenarios don’t occur. If you know you are coming up for contract renewal, go back to Step 1 and make sure that your needs haven’t changed and this vendor is still the correct choice. Without question your vendor will notify you if you haven’t paid your invoice…but will they give you a heads up if something on that invoice looks fishy?

5. Maintain Constant Communication

Maintain Constant Communication
The most crucial aspect of effective IT vendor management is effective communication. But it’s not always easy. The larger the vendor the more hoops you probably have to jump through in order to get someone’s attention.

One of the things vCom does best is take over the management of vendor relationships for our clients so they don’t have to worry about the day-to-day tasks. We can help you choose the right vendor and serve as primary contact on the account to relieve your organization of the time and resource consuming service and support challenges. Our vManager platform ensures that every piece of information relating to the vendor, from contracts and orders to support tickets and invoices, is accessible in one central location.

A well-managed relationship with your IT vendor has many benefits: cost reduction, improved quality, more effective service, and increased customer satisfaction. Make sure your IT vendors are providing everything you need.