Four key steps to successfully managing IT suppliers

The IT Suppliers you use in your business are a critical component to your success. Like any other team though, they need managing to ensure they continue to provide you with the service that you agreed.

Once the honeymoon is over, actively managing your IT suppliers is a critical part of the process. Suppliers that are unmanaged often provide a lower grade service and poor value for money. Unmanaged suppliers can be a drain on your time and energy.

1. Contract & service
Think carefully about what you need and what matters to you. Ensure that these things are laid out clearly in the contract and service level agreement. Ensure there are Key Performance Indicators that measure the things that matter to you, and agree what happens if the KPI targets are not met. Read the contract carefully and only sign if you’re happy. Keep your side of the bargain, including paying bills on time.

2. Measure and report
“What gets measured, gets done.” Meet regularly with the supplier – have a proper agenda and insist they provide a report objectively detailing their performance. It’s an opportunity to discuss where they are succeeding and failing, but also to talk about how you can be a better customer.

3. Focus on the supplier relationship
Engage and invest in the relationship. An ignored supplier will turn in to an underperforming supplier – ensure your suppliers are great suppliers by setting things up correctly, maintaining the relationship and engaging them in your business.

Choose suppliers who are large enough that they can cope with your business growth, but small enough that you are important to them. Treat their people well and say thank you!

4. Plan ahead for renewal or replacement
Never find yourself renewing because you have simply run out of time to do otherwise! Plan out the time it takes to identify alternatives, tender, shortlist, negotiate details and then go live with an alternative supplier. Work backwards from the renewal notice date to identify when you would have to kick off this process.

Click on the download button for our full CEO’s briefing on IT supplier management.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT directors, CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with SME and mid-market organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.