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SPG Recap: Art and Science of Managing Vendors

Last Friday, at our Strategic Partnerships Group (SPG) Meeting  Nick Fuhry, IT Global Sourcing Manager at Boston Scientific led an engaging conversation around the topic; Art and Science of Managing Vendors. A huge thank you to Prime Therapeutics for hosting us! 

We kicked off the meeting defining Vendor Management as a discipline that enables organizations to control costs, driver service excellence and mitigate risks to gain increased value from their vendors throughout the deal life cycle. Nick then outlined four aspects of vendor management as a continuous process flow. This process includes; segmentation – determining appropriate supplier relationships, collaboration – set targets that capture mutually beneficial business values, implementation – execute your plan to achieve set targets, and evaluation – measure the performance of your vendor management process.  

After discussing the art and science behind managing vendors and the many components to both, we split into five groups to answer the following questions. Below you will the discussion questions and a summary of what was discussed for each.  

  1. Which aspects of vendor management should be standardized?

There were four main components of vendor management that the group concluded should be standardized including our selection processes tiering (emerging, strategic, legacy), cadence review (Monthly, QBR), and metrics: IT finance, asset, risk, maintenance, innovation.  

  1. What area have you seen successful vendor partnerships?

Some areas that were discussed were building deep relationships, stratifying vendors, and focusing on business outcome and mutually beneficial topics.  

  1. What can vendor management do to improve its own cycle time engaging vendors?

The group brainstormed three ways for VM to improve its own cycle time including contracts management, cadence working with a vendor, and cycle time. 

  1. How can vendor management better support the IT’s mission to protect customer data in the vendor’s possession?

Vendor management can better support the IT’s mission through assisting with tracking, setting expectations clearly regarding how data can be used by vendors, and active interaction with legal, solutions architects, risk management, and information security.  

  1. How is tracking vendor cost savings a useful metric for the vendor management team and mission?

It may depend on the use of vendor whether it is product – people savings, cloud – TOTs, staffing, or licenses.   

As you can see, there is not one answer to the art and science of managing your vendors. We hope our members were able to get a few key takeaways to take back to their organization. If you were unable to attend this meeting, you can find the slide deck, here.