Most businesses rely on 5-10 core technology vendors to keep business running smoothly. Any miscues in communication or coordination between vendors can result in downtime, wasted efforts and loss of productivity. This is a common occurrence among SMBs because the person managing vendors is usually juggling day-to-day operations and lacks the necessary time to proactively respond to changes and updates.
One of the greatest challenges associated with maintaining a smooth-running business network is organizing and managing the various vendors involved. The office manager, operations director or IT manager must have:
•A complex understanding regarding from the top-down of the business network to effectively manage this process
•Proper coordination of the inner-workings of your network as it pertains to your vendors
•Time to stay up-to-date with upcoming expirations and/or investigate cost-effective alternatives
Without these key elements in place, the results can prove to be problematic. The player in the process that truly stands to lose anything substantial in the short-term is your business. The ideal situation is to have a single point of contact or “one neck to choke.”
With one point of contact, the decision makers in your company can work more efficiently and not spend time putting out fires in areas they are not equipped to handle. Your point of contact must have specific knowledge pertaining to your business and how it leverages each vendor to make money. Whether the vendor is a website hosting company, Internet service provider (ISP), telecommunications supplier or software application vendor, the person managing your vendor relationships must fully understand how each of these pieces of the puzzle work together to create the proper working environment for your business.
The best candidate for this role is the IT Manager or your IT services provider. For the small to medium-sized businesses, having a full-time IT Manager is sometimes not a viable option. If you partner with an IT service provider for your day-to-day technology support, your service levels should include a true vendor management system as a core component. Rather than another vendor for you to manage, your service provider should take ownership of this responsibility and manage the vendors on your behalf.
Proper vendor management minimizes downtime, reduces accelerated costs and ensures proper service level agreements. Your employees can have more time to focus on the core business functions geared towards generating revenue. They will also avoid crises associated with attempting to support something they are underqualified to work on and that distracts them from their primary responsibilities within your business.
The bigger question: Can you really afford to not have vendor management in place?