Vendor management: How to build effective relationships (free PDF)

Your projects will go more smoothly if you choose the right vendors and build healthy working relationships. This ebook offers an array of recommendations and best practices for vetting and managing vendors and avoiding costly mistakes.

From the ebook:

You’ve probably participated in the proposal dance with a software or services vendor. After pleasantries are exchanged and a few dozen PowerPoint slides presented, you get to the “best practices” and “quals” portion of the show. Impressive-sounding metrics and results are shown, and big-name companies that used the technology or service flashed on the screen, all implying that merely by purchasing the product on offer and following some “best practices,” your company, too, can be fitter, happier, and financially secure.

What is a best practice anyway?
Like most overwrought concepts, the idea of best practices is grounded in a simple and largely true idea: that there’s a right and wrong way to perform a task if you want a certain result. The best practice to avoid a speeding ticket is to stay under the speed limit, and the best practices to lead a healthier life are diet and exercise. However, in the case of technology and services, purveyors of best practices tend to ignore a second truism that should be familiar to anyone who ever set foot inside a statistics class: Correlation does not imply causation.

That marquee company that installed a new technology platform and saw a 15% ROI in just nine months may have concurrently launched a massive cost-cutting program. The retailer with a 5% sales increase after launching its mobile app may have been in an industry where peers had a 15% sales increase over the same time period due to general market conditions. And of course, there’s the famous example from every introductory statistics class: Ice cream sales rise in near perfect correlation to shark attacks every summer. Do ice cream sales cause shark attacks?

Cerebrally, we understand that correlated events don’t automatically have a causal relationship, yet IT leaders will often sit in rapt attention as a vendor suggests the mere presence of its technology or process will drive success at their company.

My best practice might not be yours
The other fundamental flaw with best practices is that they ignore your organization’s current capabilities and the relevance of the practice to the matter at hand. Most IT leaders have heard of Agile software development, and after years of hype probably have an sense of the types of organizations and specific efforts where Agile is appropriate. Take a look at one of the newer methods being touted as a best practice, like DevOps, for instance, and overzealous talking heads are pitching it as the solution to every problem.

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