We would like to extend a warm thank you to Stephanie Tulgren, Vice President, IT Vendor Partnerships at U.S. Bank for facilitating our most recent Strategic Partnerships Group meeting last Friday. What a great conversation we had for a cold morning on the topic: Supporting I.T. Innovation. As always, thank you to Medica for hosting our group.   

Stephanie started the conversation by sharing her desire to leverage large vendor partnerships more effectively. Along with this idea, an IT Vendor Partnerships team was created three years ago. Their goals included optimizing vendor value, balancing long term vendor partnership objectives with short term values, and fostering innovation. At U.S. Bank they currently have unfettered vendor access and strong executive engagement. They still found a huge challenge with creating competition while allowing open access and dialog.    

So, what are their solutions? U.S Bank has formed a new team with a focus on strategic vendors and deals only. They have each group member focus one 1-2 major vendors. They have personalized a long-term plan to improve each strategic vendor relationship. They have also shifted from a contract processor to value creators / trusted advisors to act more as a counterpoint to the vendor sales team.  

As a result of their new solutions, U.S Bank has found a higher vendor and internal stakeholder satisfaction, market bleeding to market competitive rates on all major agreements, quicker turnaround time for signature, increases in banking discussions, and they are now perceived as value creators/ trusted advisors. With new solutions come new challenges and innovations. A few of the challenges U.S Bank is now facing include: automation, anticipating disruption, and balancing third-party risk.     

As a group we outlined four discussion questions, here is what we discussed:

1. How is your vendor management organization supporting IT innovation?

  • Some of our members felt that their vendor management does not currently support IT innovations, or that it may be happening, but they are unaware of it   
  • Others felt that there was a lack of maturity in the process and more BU driven

2. What are the ways in which your vendor management organization is driving innovation?

  • Trust IT – it is no longer a budget item to be minimized. I.T. needs to be a natural partner in the business.  
  • VM should involve I.T to create and build trust  
  • Drive efficiency in vendor selection – VM can drive efficiency and the partnership will drive all the way through  
  • Think of each business portfolio and how you could optimize it  

3. What parts of the traditional procurement process need to be modernized to support IT innovation?

  • Moving to more POC’s – clarify things  
  • Iterative- Agile, etc.    
  • Speed to decision    
  • Set expectation – accelerate    
  • Forward planning    

4. How can organizations incorporate agile, automation, and big data into their groups to improve vendor management service offerings?

  • Agile- Program increment or quarterly/ annual planning cycles    
  • Automation – some vendors have tools that support this    

Innovation is all around us and is at the forefront of many successful organizations. While they are still facing huge obstacles, U.S Bank has been making large strides to support and drive innovation through their vendor management team. Wherever your organization may be in supporting I.T. innovation, hopefully, you were able to find some takeaways to help you in your journey. If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed, check out the slide deck here.