What Vendor Risk Criteria Do You Monitor Constantly?

Most of my clients today monitor at least their key suppliers to mitigate risk. But the criteria they look at are mostly limited to the contractual ("Do I get what I pay for?") and financial ("Are they stable?") performance of those vendors in scope. While the delivery performance information comes from the SLA tracking, the financial information comes either from the supplier's balance sheet or from services firms providing such information on a subscription basis.

I am interested if you are monitoring other criteria? If yes — which ones, and how do you get the data needed for such analysis?

IT Doesn’t Solve Business Problems, So Shadow IT Proliferates

Last Saturday, I moderated a three-person panel at the Syntel annual customer meeting in Charleston, SC. While discussing the business's penchant for going around IT to buy IT solutions and services, an astute panel member and CIO said, “IT doesn’t solve business problems, so shadow IT proliferates.” This CIO has spent the last 18 months “consolidating shadow IT” in order to reduce costs and, perhaps more importantly, deliver solutions to the business more quickly and safely than the business can self-provision. Putting a halt to shadow IT is not to punish anyone or to reduce anyone’s power; it is to help the business innovate and grow. Not surprisingly, the key to this consolidation has been establishing a project management office (PMO) comprised of business analysts and project managers who are responsible for understanding business requirements and then developing and delivering solutions to meet those requirements as quickly as possible, using internal staff or third-party consultants or cloud solutions. While the consolidation is still underway, business leaders at this company are already beginning to view this as a value-added service rather than a punishment.

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New iPhone Hype! ... But Won’t Tech Savvy Business Users Just Queue Up And Buy It Themselves? Does SVM Need To Act?

Good news and bad:  You — as a provisioner of technology to the business — will likely NOT be buying iPhones en masse to the resounding cheers of the business. However, given that the global media has induced any type-A tech consumers to lose sleep over the previous weeks and months leading up to today’s media announcement, SVM professionals can act now by:

  1. Understanding the needs of various business user groups.
  2. Working with EA and the business to develop emerging technology adoption guardrails.
  3. Working with security and risk and infrastructure and operations colleagues to develop vendor risk assessments for non-IT provisioned vendors (ahem … Apple).

We looked at these steps in more detail in our upcoming report “Inquiry Spotlight: Enterprise Mobility Sourcing And Planning, 2010- H1, 2011.”  BUT … we NEED your opinion too (and c’mon, it’s Apple; everyone has on opinion on this), so please weigh in on our discussion on our sourcing and vendor management community.

How Will You Spend 2012?

Do you have a plan for how your team will add value to your business’ objectives in 2012? I don’t mean serving user requirements or meeting their expectations. I mean helping them achieve their end goals. The chances are good that your business executives have some hot priorities for next year that include initiatives like grow faster than their key competitors, bring new products to market, acquire or divest a business unit, serve customers better, and be more profitable.

And whether they succeed or fail at those initiatives could depend on what sourcing and vendor management does. Pick the wrong suppliers, and the initiative doesn’t get implemented properly. Sign a bad deal, and the ROI your executives were counting on evaporates. Manage the supplier relationship ineffectively, and the initiative stalls.

That’s a lot of pressure for sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals. It also explains why all of the SVM pros I know are smart and tough – SVM is not the place for wimps.

 As the leader of Forrester’s SVM Council, which will meet at Forrester’s Sourcing & Vendor Management Forum next month, I get to see first-hand how senior SVM pros take that responsibility seriously and how they work every day to bring more value to their organizations. We recently as a group spent time discussing 2012 strategic priorities. While there was a fair amount of detail, here are the top-level priorities for SVM executives in 2012:

·         Delivering Cost Savings

·         Reassessing Outsourcing Strategies

·         Achieving Breakthrough Vendor Governance

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Can You Use Microsoft IE 8 Via VMware ThinApp? It Depends On Who You Ask.

As soon as you think you understand software companies’ policies on virtualization, a new problem appears that makes you tear your hair out and scratch your now-bald head. This month’s conundrum is whether or not VMware’s ThinApp product breaches your Microsoft Windows license agreement:

  • VMware promotes this product with the headline “Extend the Life of Legacy Applications, Including IE 6 Applications, with Windows 7 Support.” http://www.vmware.com/products/thinapp/overview.html
  • However, Microsoft, via its knowledge base, claims that “Running multiple versions of Windows Internet Explorer, or portions of Windows Internet Explorer, on a single instance of Windows is an unlicensed and unsupported solution.” http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2020599/en-us#top
  • VMware doesn’t warn customers that ThinApp could cause them Microsoft licensing problems, but neither does it claim that it is legal. It merely advises customers to check with Microsoft.
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