IT Asset Managers Need to Keep Up With How Vendors Grow and Change

Managing vendors has always been an important part of IT Asset Management (ITAM), and a big part of managing vendors is to investigate them thoroughly. Researching vendors should go beyond initial investigation when deciding on the vendor, and continue on even after years of working with the vendor. The reason to continue learning about and keeping tabs on the vendor is because vendors are growing and expanding their own organization. They want to create the best products, services, and marketing plans to bring in more consumers and spread the organization’s name and brand. The changes the vendor may go through may affect the organization negatively or positively. The IT Asset Manager will need to pay attention to the updates that may affect the organization in order to know if the vendor and their products and services are best suited for them.

A valuable practice

Vendor Management is a Key Process Area (KPA) that focuses on processes that build and maintain multi-faceted business relationships with vendors whose products and services are part of the organization’s portfolio. It aims to improve and streamline communication protocol, enhance negotiation processes and interactions, and use best practices for managing suppliers. Its main goal is to establish protocol for controlling vendor interactions. Vendor Management includes vendors used to source IT assets that have been selected to be managed based on predetermined criteria. The KPA is designed to bring quicker resolution of support issues, reduce or eliminate sources of dissatisfaction, and build trusted vendor relationships.

Managing vendors is crucial to perform because it helps to keep track of which assets came from whom, something that can get chaotic if the organization is large and contains many IT assets. It can also allow for great business deals on certain products or services, depending on the relationship between the vendor and the organization.

Vendors strive to expand

In order to find the right vendor, the IT Asset Manager must do extensive research to see what vendors are reliable and are likely to work well with the organization. It is a common belief that the vendor research ends here. However, this should not be the case.

A major part of Vendor Management is keeping track of vendor historical information. This includes learning about the vendor initially, watching for any changes they make like to services and products, and learning about their future plans.

Vendors always have goals of their own and will expand to reach those goals. This may lead one vendor to work with other vendors to create new products and services. Vendors may also adopt other organizations or combine with other vendors altogether. These alterations could cause the vendor’s products and services to change, which in turn, will affect the organization. Many of the updates are good and make operational use easier, however, this is not always the case.

Sometimes vendors will collaborate with other vendors to make the operational use of their products easier for the consumers. For example, a software vendor may work with a hardware vendor to allow the software to become more compatible with a device. The IT Asset Manager’s organization would be positively impacted by the change. However, if the product improved minimally and the price drastically increased, this may not be beneficial to the organization and the IT Asset Manager may need to search for a new product and vendor. These possibilities require the IT Asset Manager to watch for how the vendor changes to see how the organization is going to be affected and plan accordingly.

Investigation goes beyond initial research

The IT Asset Manager will always need to research and pay attention to what the vendors are doing. To learn how the vendor is performing, the IT Asset Manager may need to:

  • Ask the vendor questions about the future: The demand for IT assets is high, and depending on which IT asset is needed, the area may be heavily saturated with vendors and the competition may be high. This leads to some vendors winning out over others, so some vendors may not be around for too long. In order to learn what state the vendor is in, the IT Asset Manager could ask the vendor what their future goals are. Ask where they plan on being in a few years. Ask what the major, overall goals of the organization are. Asking these questions helps the IT Asset Manager learn how the vendor is performing. If they have large goals that they believe will be met within a year or two, the vendor is typically doing well. If the goals are small or minor, the vendor may be working out internal conflicts. Having minor goals does not mean they are likely to go under, however, it should still be noted how they are performing
  • Establish an update process: Having a set method for getting feedback and updates from vendors is an effective way to know how they are doing and what changes may be coming. A questionnaire is a good idea to send out because it asks direct questions that make it easy for the vendor to answer and the organization can sort and track their vendors in a fair and organized way
  • Keep an eye on advancements in the industry: The this will help the IT Asset Manager compare how the vendor is performing in the industry. If other vendors in the field are surpassing the organization’s current vendor, it may be beneficial to switch to a new vendor, depending on how far behind the current vendor is
  • Pay attention to the news: Many times, depending on how well-known the vendor is, the news will quickly discover changes the vendor is rumored to be making. The IT Asset Manager can learn what may be coming when being mindful of the news

To protect the organization from vendors that are no longer acceptable, the IT Asset Manager may need to:

  • Ensure the contract has continued service even if the vendor goes under: If the organization purchases an asset from a vendor that goes out of business, it could be a serious issue regarding service and maintenance. The contract should state if there is a continual service and for how long even if the vendor does go under
  • Create a set process for terminating vendors: A vendor may no longer be beneficial if the quality has decreased, if they are not meeting timelines, or if the vendor’s changes have a negative effect on the organization. If a circumstance like this happens, the IT Asset Manager will need to have a process set for terminating vendors. Create the process to protect the organization legally and in regards to its reputation. It is ideal to try to end things on a positive note because any strained business relationships can be difficult. There is also the chance that the vendor might improve their product or service greatly in the future, so ending things positively will allow for the organization to return to that vendor without any unnecessary struggles
  • Create a policy in the contract requiring communication from the vendor: When things are not looking good for an organization, the instinct is to dampen how serious the issues are or to not inform stakeholders altogether. Since the organization needs to be mindful of the vendors, the IT Asset Manager may need to create a policy in the contract that requires honest communication from the vendor

With these practices, the IT Asset Manager will be able to effectively track vendors and protect the organization if things go wrong.

References:

Ron Amadeo – Aug 3, 2. (2020, August 03). Google invests $450 million in ADT, gets exclusive hardware deal. Retrieved August 03, 2020, from https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/08/adt-will-exclusively-install-nest-hardware-in-450-million-google-deal/