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Managing Multiple Vendors

In many IT environments today there are infrastructures that contain technologies from various different vendors,each supported by their own distinctly different service contract. It's easy to see how managing such an environment can get messy fast, especially when more than a handful of vendors are in the mix. Too much money and time ends up getting thrown away on tasks that would ordinarily be simple to take care of. And your IT department ends up taking care of this minutiae and administrative trivia, instead of doing what it should be doing: adding more value to your organization through transformation and innovation.

In other words, what you really want is your people to spend their time making your business better, instead of churning their wheels just to ensure the business runs "as usual."

Many businesses have this same problem. What they don't realize is that the majority of network support costs have more to do with how the multi-vendor domain is managed, rather than the actual price of their support contracts.

So what does it really cost to support your network? Think about how much time your IT department spends just on the phone to vendors. Not only that, but the time spent going over and over again not just your exact problem, but the exact configuration of your environment. Add to that your unique configurations, idiosyncrasies and requirements. All that time spent on the phone, your engineers could have been thinking up new ways to generate income, by using newer technologies to streamline the way you serve customers.

It gets even worse when Vendor A starts blaming Vendor B for something. And who knows; maybe it's even a thing your IT department should have called Vendor C about in the first place.

All of these costs add up, and they could have been avoided in the first place, only if someone had remembered to update a minor contract when it came due. Ultimately, multi-vendor management can get messy very quickly when not performed well. And all of that time and money spent sunk into those minor details adds to your total cost of support.

Regardless of the size of your organization, the solution to this problem is the same: Find an Information and Communications Technology provider (ICT) to manage all of your support contracts and vendors for you. It means that there's only one number to keep track of, and one number you have to call when anything goes wrong.

In essence, employing the assistance of an ICT provider frees up your skilled IT engineers from the minutiae of having to call vendors and keep the business rolling as it should. It allows them to think strategically and concentrate on projects that will add value to the organization, as opposed to merely keeping it working.

Another benefit of having an ICT management system in place comes when you start thinking of when your service contracts are up. Can you say when the service agreements end with each of your vendors? Can your IT staff answer that question for each of the 20 to 30,000 individual assets in your inventory? Do they have time to create the invoices for all those pieces of equipment?

Now we see the benefits of co-terming contracts, or consolidating many contracts onto a fiscal calendar in order that all the renewals are synchronized. Ultimately, this benefits efficiency and operational stability.

So what should you look for in an ICT service provider? You'll want them to have a good level of skill with most, if not all of the vendors you have in your domain. If they're too narrow, they might pressure you into changing vendors, which you might not want to do. If their range is too broad, then they might end up outsourcing a lot of the work to third parties, which is hardly ideal either. Of course a certain level of compromise will be required, but generally speaking, it's better to choose an ICT provider that's able to do most of the work itself rather than subcontracting it out.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about Communication technologies She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

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