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In these days of organisations looking for fully integrated solutions, inevitably they are looking to award to a single, or low number of partners, in order to simplify project management. Why would anyone really do anything else? Managing a whole raft of suppliers, delivering mobile, contractor, document management, web self-serve, CRM etc, is a pain in the rear, as some reading this will have no doubt experienced.
Awarding to a single supplier, who will manage the third parties, is clearly a massive advantage. Even better, a single supplier with long established relationships, with those third party suppliers, is even better. I am always keen in procurements that I help organisations complete, that these are explored as part of that process. Ideally, find examples where something similar has been successfully delivered already, before signing on the bottom line.
When I was at my old shop, we had third party relationships with a number of specialist suppliers. All in areas where it was not commercially viable to develop or customers just wanted it. In all cases, integration was developed to be as deep as practical, to provide the opportunity for the best customer experience. sometimes however, experiences varied dramatically, often with the same third party.
I cannot say that I ever was tempted to develop internally anything to rival those third parties. It would have created animosity and may have also violated contractual agreements we had together too. Maybe with that in mind, it always concerns me when lead suppliers offer to develop an alternative to their recognised third party offerings. I cringe a bit when suppliers state "How tricky can it be?", to knock out predictive analytics for arrears, dynamic scheduling or P2P.
Well, the truth is that it's pretty tricky, otherwise we would not need so many third parties now, would we? You can predict too, that 12,18,24 months down the line, you the client customer, will be picking up the pieces, in a large majority of cases. I have seen it. Worse too when it's tried with a large customer, much bigger than has ever been tried before. Sales swagger, that a limited development team will struggle to support. Beware! Or source some solid professional advice, before committing.
So, when dealing with a single supplier, how best to work as a happy family, with your third party suppliers?
Well, first off, ensure that the (big) project plan includes all those third party deliverables. Also ensure that your supplier project manager assigned, understands them all too and is capable of engaging adequately with them. If they can't then by month two, consider having them replaced, with someone fully capable of overseeing the whole integrated solution.
At regular monthly project meetings, ensure in addition to your main supplier, senior staff for your key third parties attend too. When third parties fail to deliver, beat up your main supplier first. They are ultimately responsible contractually. Never forget that. Keep all suppliers tightly to the originally agreed project plan. Remember it should be tied into the contract. Main suppliers are benefitting from commission, from those third parties, they should morally be making these relationships work and work well.
Manage change control for all suppliers, through your main one. Having them all at project meetings will make that easier. Where third parties have not delivered, it should hurt the main supplier first. After all, these were all proposed by them in your original procurement, as options that would satisfy the customer requirements.
Any good supplier should of course review third party relationships often, based on actual performance. Poor outcomes always are going to reflect badly on the lead supplier.
Related Post: When thinking security, don't forget your human vunerabilities..
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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