Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Good The Bad & The Ugly

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy

I recently had an email conversation with a new IT manager who had recently joined an organisation and was somewhat appalled with many of the system suppliers engaged. Many readers of this blog will have encountered this issue. My choice of link track was guided by the fact that engaging IT suppliers can under certain circumstances, be like living in the wild west.

Having been a supplier for a good many years, I understand that getting the best as a customer is a two way street. Nurturing relationships do pay dividends and it should be thought of like a common law marriage, you should be able to co-exist under the same organisational roof, but don't forget that parting can be quite swift.

There are bad (and ugly) suppliers, as well as good out there, but that is not a constant. That's where some complacency comes in. Often a very innovative and caring supplier can create an initially beneficial working relationship, which organisations settle down with. Change of staff, directors, strategic direction, ownership or focus can ruin that. Unless you meet and discuss your needs, and their direction on a regular basis, you can easily find yourself in a dark place. If traditional account management is in place, use that, or force regular meetings by other means.

Suppliers of all kinds can become complacent and it's no bad thing to push proactively to make a nuisance of yourself. If your calls seem to sit on a support desk way beyond their SLA, call or email every single day to let them know you mean business. You won't be popular, but I promise you, your problems will be tackled in reference to others, because you are pushing for resolutions and being proactive.

Established suppliers do get complacent in so many ways. I see it when compared with newcomers, who come in looking hungry for your business. Presentations are slicker, they generally have more energy, better handouts, freebies. The 'thank you for your time yesterday' email always arrives the next morning etc. Incumbents need to up their game, like you were a new business prospect, every time they see you. They may send the 'A' team to new prospects and tender demo's, but for you, do you get whoever was left in their office that week.

Your incumbent needs to know that you are looking at other options or at least feel you are to up their game at every opportunity. Having said that, always give your existing suppliers the best chance to turn the situation around. Potentially that is the cheapest and least hassle route. Having said that, I have arranged whole day demos with existing suppliers, who have provided a 5 hour car crash, rather than a road to nirvana.   

Disengaging with a supplier is always dependent on the contract in place too. Be sure to know what notice period is involved, if you are not locked into another x years etc. You can generally give your y months notice etc and extend it if your replacement project is lagging behind.

When you have x years to run on a contract, which is clearly not going well and cannot be recovered, expert witness advice can be sought, which can be the route to disengage. Some high profile housing cases have got to court (or quietly settled out of one), where non-delivery has been proven and damages sometimes awarded.

Just about all suppliers like to have satisfied customers, paying invoices on time, telling their peers how good what they supply is, or at least not moaning too much about it. Engage with your supplier as best you can, but don't forget who the customer is. It's you who should be wearing the trousers in this relationship! 

Related Post: Is the Internet Of Things IOT, the next big thing?


You can link with me on LinkedIn here - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy It would be great to connect !

The Good the Bad and the Ugly - Ennio MorriconeThe Good the Bad and the Ugly - Ennio Morricone.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

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