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Posted by Stephen Mann on February 7, 2012
When I very briefly joined TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) as an IT service management (ITSM) consultant a year ago today, I met a fellow new recruit Sandy Winschief – a vendor/supplier management specialist armed with a pair of Six Sigma black belts. Sandy was/is a key piece in TCS’ Service Integration offering jigsaw and someone who made me think more about the relationships between IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) organizations and their suppliers.
Sorry, you said, “Service Integration”?
For those new to Service Integration I offer the following “definition” from a Forrester colleague’s “thinking”:
“To make multisourcing arrangements effective, customers must get suppliers to work together, both from the commercial and operational standpoint. The services integration layer, comprising elements of process, tools, service-level agreements (SLAs), and related structures, is absolutely critical to the success of these arrangements.”
So how can Sandy’s vendor/supplier management expertise help I&O professionals?
There has been a lot of talk about ITSM and 2012 challenges: cloud, improving service, cloud, outsourcing, cloud, but not a lot said about the service providers – your suppliers, the people that could actually help you with these challenges.
You’ve probably spent a lot of time and effort through your procurement departments setting up an RFP process, sourcing suitable providers, going through the whole elaborate selection process, but, since the ink has dried on the contract, have you actually had an in-depth conversation with any of your key suppliers?
When suppliers are mentioned it’s sometimes in hushed tones of “they’re only there to do as little as possible and for as much money as possible. Not provide value for money.” And the first focus on suppliers is often via SLAs, ensuring that the contract provides a “swift kick” to obtain service credits at the first opportunity – doesn’t that suggest you’re expecting failure?
Have you ever thought that suppliers don’t actually want to disappoint (by providing a poor service)? Who in their right mind goes to work to do a bad job? We are now more than ever in a “reputation economy” and suppliers know that you will tell your colleagues and peers about poor supplier performance (maybe at the next ITSM conference you attend) – surely they need positive customer feedback to maintain and increase revenue?
Think differently (sorry for the subliminal Apple plug)
Instead of just thinking about incidents, also think about: the positives, collaborative meetings, and discussing the possibilities not just the issues. Think about how suppliers:
Then try this:
Above all else, build a relationship and establish regular contact. This is not a one off exercise and is definitely not about onerous, weekly meetings. Try quarterly updates – just focus a little more on the people involved and less on the tools and processes.
Letting suppliers really get to know your organization and business drivers could be invaluable. Did you know that 65% of senior managers are more productive when in a collaborative relationship with a supplier? – Sandy made that up, but you never know ... and if you are a supplier reading this, YOU could always make the first move...
My thanks to Sandy for providing the above content and hopefully enticing others to think a little differently about their suppliers. Comments? Thoughts? Coffee?
If you enjoyed this, please read my latest blog: http://blogs.forrester.com/stephen_mann
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