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Involving Strategic Vendors in the Ongoing IT Planning Process

July 11, 2017

At Think IT’s most recent Strategic Partnerships Group meeting, we discussed the importance of relationship building with strategic vendors. We touched on how to create a partnership that allows organizations to determine how much value a vendor brings, as well how to involve the right vendors at a deeper level that allows for them to provide even more value. Read more about the discussion below!

Originally posted on Think IT.

Involving Strategic Vendors in the Ongoing IT Planning Process is a crucial piece for all organizations, but it is often easier said than done. At last week’s meeting, thanks to Brian Kuhl, Technology Sourcing Manager at Merrill Corporation, and Rob Saver, Senior Technical Analyst at SUPERVALU, the SPG group was able to grasp a better understanding of why it’s so important to involve strategic vendors and how to better engage with them.

What is a Strategic Supplier Relationship?

According to the discussion, it is “a strategy based upon joint opportunities, mutual trust, respect, and open and honest communication. Often, the strategy is motivated by cost savings and a new or innovative set of goods or services”. In IT, there are three traditional categories of supplier/vendors: hardware/software, services, and staffing. However, your relationships and engagement with each of these suppliers will differ depending on what the suppliers are doing for you and the value they bring to the organization. It was stated during the meeting that it can be helpful to rate each vendor on the level of value they bring to your organization and focus more effort on those that provide you with the greatest amount of value.

Involving Suppliers

So, we understand what a strategic supplier relationship is, but how can you involve them in the IT planning process? The key word in the question is “strategic”. Vendors are there to help you and push your organization forward so it’s important that you leverage the relationship. Some ways you can leverage and involve them in the planning process are through strategic road maps and annual budgeting.

  • Strategic Road Maps. Where is your organization going? What is your strategic direction? It is important to share this information with your suppliers and keep them up-to-date on pending projects. If they know and understand your strategic direction it will be easier for them to help and bring innovation to your organization. But remember, this relationship is a two-way street; not only should you provide them with your organization’s road map but they should provide you with theirs as well. They need to be open and share things with you like product life cycle, new offerings, and the direction their company is heading. It is important to schedule meetings that are not sales presentations, so both parties can discuss and understand each other’s road map.
  • Annual Budgeting. Involve your vendors in the annual budget cycle, whether that be involvement in project planning for the next year or potential changes that may need to be made in the budget. Vendors should be transparent and communicate with you the expected costs or changes in costs, so utilize them when developing budgets and planning for the future.

Involving your suppliers in the ongoing IT planning process isn’t easy and does take a conscious effort, but developing strong vendor partnerships and engaging them can impact your organization in a very positive way!

How do you involve strategic IT vendors in your process?

Posted By: Rachael Gaffney


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