Trust is still too often underestimated by IT vendors, despite it being a key factor in successful relationships between the buyers and sellers of IT products and services, according to leading UK IT bosses.

A poll of’s CIO Jury user panel this week resulted in the 12 heads of IT unanimously voting for trust as a critical factor in the success – or failure – of an IT contract.

The result is backed up by the findings of a report by local authority IT manager user group Socitm this week, which claimed a lack of trust is blighting public sector outsourcing contracts.

Colin Cobain, head of IT at supermarket giant Tesco, said trust is vital, but he added: “Too many vendors underestimate how important this is.”

Businesses should be able to trust their tier-one IT suppliers almost as much as their internal IT teams, according to Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO at Manpower.

“A true partnership is one where the customer can trust the supplier and not second guess or validate in detail every deviation from expected requirements. A partner is a key piece of the delivery chain,” he said.

That view was backed up by Ric Francis, operations director at the Post Office, who said trust is key, from the initial meeting to the project being delivered.

“Trust is rule number one of the engagement – and is checked at almost every level,” he said.

But others warned that trust and openness is bi-directional in the often love-hate client/vendor relationship.

Ken Davis, head of IT at TV channel Five, said: “Trust is an important part of maintaining good vendor relationships, but never ignore the need for strong and clear contractual commitments. The two components complement each other.”

For Ian Cohen, IT director at the Financial Times, trust is absolutely vital.

“Trust is fast becoming the only attribute of value in vendor relationships that are more often than not just the ‘same old same as’. In my book, trust has surpassed ‘strategic supplier’ as the mantle that business relationships should aspire towards.”

Today’s CIO Jury was…

Colin Cobain, head of IT, Tesco
Ian Cohen, IT director, Financial Times
Ken Davis, head of IT, Five
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO, Manpower
Ric Francis, operations director, Post Office
Tony Johnson, IT director, Virgin Megastores
John Keeling, director of computer services, John Lewis Partnership
Nick Masterson-Jones, IT programmes director, Voca
Rory O’Boyle, head of IT, The Football Association
Peter Ryder, head of ICT, Preston City Council
Gavin Whatrup, IT director, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Phil Young, head of IT operations, Amtrak Express Parcels

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and want to be part of’s CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at