big-picture

Effective Vendor Management – Devil in the Details

Vendor Management and Governance is all about the big picture – maintaining transparency into the multi-vendor ecosystem and ensuring that all the moving parts are seamlessly integrated and aligned.

But the high-level oversight that characterizes effective vendor management must be built on a foundation of operational detail, characterized by process consistency and adherence to standards within and across service providers. Trouble is, when it comes to defining the “standards” around which vendor management will operate, many enterprises allow for just a bit of wiggle room – wiggle room that risks compromising the structural integrity of the overall governance framework.

Consider, for example, ITIL standards around incident, change and problem management. While service providers uniformly adhere to ITIL guidelines, different providers tend to adopt their own particular flavor of how to interpret those guidelines. And even subtle differences in language at the operational data layer of governance can create significant problems when multiplied thousands of times a day across multiple providers.

The solution is to ensure that requirements for service level reporting are clearly and specifically spelled out, leaving no room for ambiguity. The process of defining those standards at the necessary level of granularity, however, is arduous and time-consuming, and finding the resources and commitment to get the job done presents a challenge.

Many organizations are outsourcing certain vendor management functions to third-party specialists who leverage process discipline and cost-efficient offshore resources to handle many day-to-day administrative tasks. The model offers significant cost benefits and allows the client vendor management team to focus on value-added activities.