10 Tips For Getting the Most Out of Your Vendors

Are you having trouble with your construction, technology, management consulting or any other type of vendors? You’ve got plenty of company!

That certainly is the case for IT and Professional Engineers I recently taught in two separate project management 2 day workshops. Vendors have become a vital yet frustrating part of our fast-paced multidisciplinary world.  Yet, like my workshop participants, “it ain’t easy”. 

Here are some simple but effective tips which work when I turnaround troubled vendor projects.

1. Don’t make unrealistic demands. If they can’t deliver, you can point the finger at them but, guess what, you also lose.

2. Do ask them to prove they can deliver on schedule. Closely examine their critical path and the detailed basis for their budgetary demands.

3. Don’t mistreat or disrespect them as human beings. Yes their companies want to make money. But also yes, they are human beings. Know how to respect them even during inevitable conflicts.

4. Do embrace them as part of your team. Align your visions. Share common norms so that you can move quickly through the storming stage and stay in performing.

5. Don’t treat them as adversaries. Do treat them as partners. Strive for long-term relationships as you would with your internal company managers or staff. Clearly define your roles and theirs as well as the associated performance expectations.

6. Share! Give don’t hide from them the information and priorities they need to effectively perform their roles. And, hey, don`t keep these 10 tips as your secret. Share them so that you can both aspire to them.

7. Set precise and measurable mutual goals … S.M.A.R.T. ones.

8. Discriminate between essential and nonessential rules. Fuss over major issues. Empower them. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

9. Retain final control. It is important to retain an unshared right to approve or veto decisions.  Final financial and personnel matters must rest within the powers of you, the customer.

10. Understand, validate and communicate What’s In It for Them (WIIFT) and What’s In It for You (WIIFY). Then make them happen the win-win way (WWW).

.… Adapted from my new e-book The Extraordinary Power of Project Relationships

 Do the right thing! Pay it forward. Together, let’s make a positive difference.

“To give back and be given is to feel the sun from both sides” … Harry Mingail


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