Diary of Edward Chen: Living with legal issues

IT manager Edward Chen knows that his job revolves around the legal department almost as much as the IT team. In today's diary entry, he signs legal documents and works his way through vendor negotiations.

By Edward Chen

This week, IT Manager Republic is featuring the daily diary of Edward Chen, an IT manager for a nonprofit public broadcasting station.

8:30 A.M.
The new streaming vendor is still having problems negotiating with their partner, who is our current streaming vendor. It seems unlikely that a contract will come by month’s end. I called the vendor and attempt to lock down our price—even if we go beyond the end of the month—and I am fairly successful.

The new vendor really wants our business, and I’m willing to give it to them, but they have to deal with the current vendor first. Our current contract is for one year, and I’m only willing to get out of it if both vendors are amiable about it. I expect another status report today.

Did you miss these diary entries?
Diary of Edward Chen: Planning to launch a Web site update Diary of Edward Chen: Dealing with vendors

9:00 A.M.
I’m meeting with our FM engineering department. They want to redesign their production and recording studios as part of moving to all digital production.

We talk about the insertion of a Cisco Catalyst 4000 series switch and about how they want to handle wiring to the new spaces. They want to reuse the existing wiring but pull it to another wiring closet. I tell them wiring vendors would rather pull new wiring instead of reusing existing wire. They agree.

10:00 A.M.
I get a call from our legal department from a staff member who has questions about our new ISP contract. Apparently, the contract is leaning heavily towards the ISP’s advantage rather than being mutually beneficial.

She also hands me a finalized version of a vendor’s nondisclosure agreement for me to sign. The vendor wants to sell us some digital broadcast equipment, and they need us to sign the agreement before they will show us some objects still in development. I sign it and send it off.

11:00 A.M.
After handling last-minute preparations for our IT planning meeting, I contact our wiring vendors to set up appointments for the initial estimation meetings.

In the planning meeting, we create a rough outline of projects for the next fiscal year. I also press for project end dates and for a project document to be signed by internal customers and stakeholders. This way I can ensure participation, cooperation, and accountability from staff members who do not report directly to IT.

12:30 P.M.
I’m having lunch with half of my crew. I’m making an effort to not be a distant and unapproachable manager. Accessibility has been a key to my success as a manager, and the networking group and my database developer take full advantage of this. I have shorter one-on-one meetings with them so I know exactly what’s happening during their week.

2:00 P.M.
I meet with a storage area network (SAN) vendor who is here to submit a pricing proposal and a systems recommendation. I lobby for funding to install a SAN system within our network, and I’ve lined up three SAN vendors for quotes on the average price for a SAN solution, including costs for an automated tape library and implementation fees.

I want to make sure I have the full picture of my data storage needs including backup costs and integration costs. This vendor is the lowest so far.

3:30 P.M.
I am meeting with a search-engine vendor. They have a very good solution, and it’s packed with features. I drill down to talk about costs. They are fairly reasonable, but he keeps stressing redundancy, which obviously costs more.

Our site is fairly light in scope, and we can afford downtime for the search engine. I leave the meeting knowing we have investigated the best search-engine vendors in the market. Now our Web systems guys need to come up with their recommendation. They will let us know by the end of next week.

5:00 P.M.
I receive the initial contract for the Web agency we selected for the relaunch of the Web site. I am amazed how much of IT management revolves around contracts, legal issues, and HR issues.

I’m so glad our legal department is very supportive of IT initiatives. I return the favor by making sure they are notified any time I have an upcoming contract, so they can schedule themselves accordingly. This only helps the department’s position within the organization.

No updates from the new streaming vendor. It’s just four days until the end of the month. I’m skeptical I’ll get a contract from them in time.

How do you evaluate vendors?
Once you have selected a vendor, how do you track performance? Do you have a template or checklist? Send it to TechRepublic! We’ll publish some of the items we receive so that other IT pros can benefit from your experiences. Or provide some tips for dealing with vendors by posting a comment here.


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