Procuring equipment is a necessary part of managing any business, but this is often easier said than done. Your organization works with multiple vendors, which could be both confusing and time-consuming. How does your business manage its vendors, and is there a way to make this easier and more efficient?
Vendor Management Goes Both Ways
You might consider your vendors as assets, but the fact remains that they are also businesses just like yours. This means that, while you are trying to profit from your relationship with them, they are also trying to profit from their relationship with you. This doesn’t mean that this has to be the extent of your relationship with your vendors, but be sure to keep in mind that, ultimately, you are both for-profit institutions.
Vendor management isn’t about trying to earn discounts, cut costs, and outsmart the vendors into giving you a deal that’s heavy-handed in your favor. Rather, you want to form a trusting relationship with them so that both of your needs are served adequately. Approaching vendor management in this way can help you better understand the role that vendors play in the success of your organization. Forming this kind of relationship might seem challenging, but you’ll notice that you will receive higher quality of service, friendlier negotiations, and a closer working relationship.
How to Find the Right Vendor
Just like any relationship in the business world, there will be good fits that help your business flourish, while there will be bad fits that will cause more friction than progress. We’ll help you choose the right vendors for your business’s needs.
- Know what you want from your vendor. Once you’ve decided what role the vendor fulfills for your organization, you can then rank potential vendors in regard to how well they suit your needs.
- Create some documents that you can use to inform vendors of what your business requires:
- Request for Quote: This is helpful when pricing is the biggest pain point.
- Request for Information: Put together this document to see, at a glance, information regarding the market. If what you see is ideal, move on to the next document.
- Request for Proposals: This document allows the vendor to show how they can be beneficial to your organization. You present them with a problem that they then proceed to solve for you. If the document is too detailed or not detailed enough, you might get prospects that provide inaccurate quotes.
Negotiating with Vendors
Ultimately, you want a vendor who is willing to work with your organization to achieve mutual goals. Compromise is an important part of this process, as well as clear communications. After all, nobody wants to work with a vendor who is difficult to work with.
Ensure Ongoing Support As Needed
It’s usually the case that your relationship with a vendor won’t end after the purchase and implementation of a solution. You’ll generally form a service level agreement with your vendor of choice, which will determine how you receive service, how much is covered under your current contract, as well as what’s not covered. Unfortunately, in most cases, this means putting in a support ticket or holding for minutes on end while you’re waiting to get an issue resolved. You don’t have time to waste, so the ideal way to approach this dilemma is to have someone dedicated to dealing with vendors on your side. This way, you’ll always have access to someone who knows and understands your business’s SLAs and warranties, as well as someone who will make endless phone calls so that you don’t have to.
Ashton Technology Solutions can be your go-to technology vendor management resource. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at 216-397-4080.