We all know the drill. You have a technology need, so you begin researching options and solutions. Perhaps you send out an RFP.
Then comes demos from vendors, meetings with your Senior Management Team, IT Steering Committee, and maybe the Board. Most likely, you go through this process with a sales or account executive holding your hand, answering all the questions you have, and hoping to make a sale. You sign your name on the dotted line, work with an implementation engineer and then what?
Most people assume the connection you’ve made with your selected vendor ends after signing the contract – but it shouldn’t.
The relationship you have with your vendors could provide more value than you may realize. After all, you selected their company because you trust the products and services they offer, and you recognize that they’re experts in their field. Why not put all of that knowledge to work for you?
Here are four recommendations on how to get the most out of your technology vendor relationships.
Strategic Planning / Budgeting
Keep an open and ongoing dialogue with your representatives. Your vendors know their products better than anyone else. Engage them in your planning and budgeting process.
Suggestions on upcoming technology improvements, best practices in the industry, and assistance in mapping out a timeline to keep your network fresh and secure are all services they could provide.
Looking for a new solution or working through a problem? Give them a call to see if they have a solution before looking elsewhere. If you’re happy with their product and you trust their knowledge, you may not need to go elsewhere.
The vendors you have chosen to align yourself with should understand your need to report to management, your Board of Directors, auditors, and examiners. Share with them what these groups are looking to see.
If you’re not exactly sure which metrics you’d like to see, don’t re-invent the wheel. Perhaps your vendors already have a report available or can assist you in creating one to meet your needs. If not, they’re now aware of your needs, which will help drive their focus to improve their product and help you in the long run.
One of the best things you can do when establishing a new vendor relationship is get involved in user groups if they’re available or connect with peers.
If you checked references during your due diligence, then you’ve already made a few connections. These people understand your challenges and are either dealing with similar ones or have resolved them.
Bankers are great collaborators and your vendors should be able to put you in touch with a financial institution that’s your size and complexity and may know one that had a similar experience and their resolution.
Risk assessments, policies, and business continuity are part of life today. These are also areas where your technology vendors may be able to help.
Reach out to your vendors for assistance in each of these areas. Incorporating technologies into your business continuity plan takes a strong understanding of the applications to ensure they can be restored in the timeframe and manner you anticipate. Documenting the controls provided on your network in your policies and risk assessments is a critical component to establishing prudent risk management.
You took the time and performed important due diligence in selecting the vendors you’re working with today. Leverage their knowledge and expertise and forge lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial. This will help you remain educated, expedite your tasks and appropriately plan for the needs of your organization in the most efficient way.