Friday, October 9, 2015

3 Signs Your Vendor Is a Lemon

(This article originally appeared on my LinkedIn profile.)
My first car was an Oldsmobile Achieva, and tough it got me from A to B for about a year, it didn't Achieva lot (haha...see what I did there?). I didn't know at the time how much that car would teach me about life and business, but one lesson that sticks with me to this day is that things will ride smooth until they don't

Building strong relationships with high achieving third party service providers can take your organization to the next level. But don't overlook warning signs that the wheels are about to fall off, because if they do, any efficiency gained will quickly slip away. After working with a hodgepodge of IT Services and Application Development vendors over the years, including some "non-Achievas", I've put together a brief list of warning signs for your reading pleasure.
3 signs your third party may be negatively impacting your outsourcing strategy, and placing your organization at risk:
 1. Poor Performance
If you bring up issues about vendor's performance but don't get a straight answer about how they will address it, you should be concerned. Schedule a meeting to review the SLAs in your contract and work together to find a path to common ground. Flexibility by your organization may save a struggling relationship but there may come a time to point to the SLAs and insist they get their act together. Managing your vendor's performance shouldn't be an overwhelming process. They should be working hard to keep your business. If they're not making you a priority you should review your exit strategy in the event you need to act on it.
2. Missed Deliverables
Are important deadlines frequently missed? Tracking down deliverables is a waste of valuable time. Frequent meetings with your vendor where you discuss expectations and review performance keeps things on track. Missed deliverables should come with a valid explanation and should not go overlooked. I've made the mistake of letting it slide, only to regret it for a long time to come.Bad habits form quickly when nobody is watching so I suggest weekly meetings for high priority business processes, or monthly at a minimum. Don't be afraid to give your high achieving vendors some breathing room, but don't get lazy yourself. 
3. Shirking Responsibility
When your vendor makes a mistake they should own up to it. If they don't demonstrate a willingness and desire to improve that could indicate leadership issues within their company, or be related to how you treat your vendor. Have you developed a good working relationship with the individuals who supports your organization? Have you visited them in person? If not, you should consider it. Your vendor's success will impact your success. Treat them as you would your own team members because that is ultimately what they are.
Contracts and SLAs are great but the best way to kill a good vendor relationship is by treating your vendor poorly.

- Dragon's Lair Security |
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