As a CIO developing relationships has become part of a daily routine for the digital leader.
However, the relationship with vendors can be some of the most important relationships to develop within your business.
Partnering with vendors and third party suppliers can bring support and expertise as well as further knowledge and materials into the organisation.
CIO UK shares CIO's top tips on working with vendors and how to develop vendor relationships for long-term success in the business. (See also: RSA COO Darren McKenzie on digital transformation, data and vendor partnerships)
CIO tips on partnerships with vendors: Research
The need for research is mandatory with a CIO having several choices for who to partner with in the organisation.
Taking the time to examine what the partnership can bring to the company will determine what you need from the vendor; but also what the business can bring to the relationship.
In organisations, digital teams cannot be expected to know everything from sourcing, costs and materials, and CIO Andy Caddy has seen his smaller digital team use their vendor relationship to help expand their brand at Virgin Active.
“We are too small to be of importance for the very large vendors, so we choose mid-tier providers who value the relationship and the Virgin brand,” he said. “It is important that we get vendors to work as partners in providing value above and beyond an individual piece of software or infrastructure.”
Virgin Active is currently using its partnership to help build their “core” technology and ensure that the organisation can find the “right” skills.
“The relationship has opened up a large pool of resource to help us in different areas and develop on further digital technologies such as fitness, IoT and VR,” he said.
CIO tips on partnerships with vendors: Test the water
A CIO wants to ensure the relationship will bring a low cost and low-risk delivery in products.
When picking the right vendor it is important to have a trial run. This will help the CIO if they can work together long-term in ensuring it is a good fit for the organisation in trying the partner's products and services.
Vendors should be made to pitch their products and services to the organisation while a CIO should also have a checklist of requirements which are needed to be met.
A CIO's engagement with the product is beneficial by stepping into the customer's shoes and using the service first hand.
The trial will give feedback from colleagues as well as signposting how the partnership can align with the business strategy.
CIO tips on partnerships with vendors: Communicate a clear vision
A vital skill is communication of what the organisation needs from the relationship and how it can develop both businesses.
A clear communication is needed if the project timeline is delayed or if a challenge arises in the project. Being in the loop can inform the organisation in working together to help provide a solution.
The collaboration of ideas and problem solving will lighten a CIO’s workload when delivering digital technologies, and Red Bull Racing CIO Matt Cardiuex sees working with vendors as a great chance to see people “having their finger on the pulse” when it comes to innovation.
“I think having the talent to know what is possible for the delivery of products when forming a relationship with vendors,” he said. “Having the guidance and the support from the suppliers as to who the best players out there are can help deliver the best products and innovation.”
Red Bull Racing is currently delivering digital technologies using its brand name and sport to help it “push boundaries” in its overall driver performance, with the 2016 Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix last weekend. (See also: Red Bull Racing deploys data and automation to win races)
“We have the culture of working to deadlines, but we also make a lot of our decisions on the race weekend. The more we research and engage with the vendors then we know as a team if it is a good fit to make better decisions. It is about having the foundations of the applications to enable a quicker development while also continually improving the business without breaking the bank,” he said.
Working to a deadline is a must for a CIO and communicating dates to the suppliers can help maintain a successful relationship.
For the organisation the collaboration will evaluate scalability and timescale when implementing products. This will give the CIO a measurement of how the business and vendor relationship will work together in the running of the company.
CIO tips on partnerships with vendors: Maintain the relationship
CIOs have become networking leaders in building several relationships internally and externally within the business.
Making continual effort with the vendors outside of their general day to day contact will strengthen their relationship.
Inviting the supplier to monthly meetings or scheduling a fixed date to communicate the progress of the product will encourage open discussions from both parties.
A two-way relationship of what is needed from both sides can help keep the project on track and stick to a deadline. Regular engagement will improve the relationship of how it could work better or more efficiently for future projects.
CIOs who have the difficulty of choosing the right vendor have a hefty task ahead of them but having a clear vision of what is needed from the organisation and the vendor will help in working together to provide an efficient customer service. (Read next: How technology can create a better customer service)