Once your business is up and running, you face a challenge of a different kind – Dealing with vendors, suppliers and sub-contractors. But, while speedbumps might be inevitable, it’s also manageable.
While carrying out a project, your customers come first. Their requirements should be met in order for you to have carried out a successful task. But, what about your vendors? It all starts with how you manage them.
“Because this is your project, your customers will likely blame you if the project fails due to non-performance by the vendor,” says suggests Samad Aidane, founder of Guerrilla Project Management. “This seems harsh, but your customers will still hold you at fault for not detecting this outcome early enough to make course corrections.”
Ultimately, it’s your job to align your customers’ expectations to those you have of your vendor. You can only do that by being, open and forming good supplier relationships, regardless of whether it’s your first or fifth time dealing with a vendor.
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An ESI survey on outsourcing shows that businesses are not as diligent about requirements as they should. Only 26% say their requirements are always clearly defined, adding up to three-quarters of organisations coming up short on the management of this key driver of project success.
Avoid long-term damage to vendor relationship by implementing the following professional habits today:
1. Gain a proper understanding of the process
While status reports are an excellent way to keep up to date with project progress, they only provide a glimpse of what is really happening – according to the vendor. “You need to investigate further to gain a proper understanding of the process,” suggests Aidane. In other words, ask for status updates to determine for yourself where the project sits.
“This may mean more leg work, but it can help to guarantee on-time delivery,” he says, emphasising that, although you’re relying on the vendor to deliver, the same is expected of you from your customers.
2. Specify your requirements
Whether you’re working with a new vendor or one with which you’ve had a longstanding relationship, don’t assume some requirements go without saying.
“Most failed projects begin with poorly defined requirements,” J LeRoy Ward, executive vice president for product strategy and management at ESI International, explains. “It’s incredibly important to have all of the requirements laid out on the table at the start of the project.”
Ensure you always provide a full set of requirements, providing a clear understanding of:
- What needs to be done.
- What the final product should be.
- When it is due.
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3. Improve your vendor relationships
The overall outcome of any relationship with a vendor can be improved in the following ways:
- Set up verification milestones aligning with payments to provide a clear understanding of where the project needs to be at each step in the process.
- Align your expectations for vendors with the expectations your customers have. Working with anything but the very best professionals may lead to the inability to meet customer demands.
- Know when it’s time to move on. Don’t keep working with a company or organisation that can’t meet goals, as your business will continue to struggle in the long term.
Correct vendor management minimises the risks of any project going wrong. It takes time and effort to build successful relationships with vendors, but it’s worth it for the health of your business.