Vendor management typically includes finding a partner, contract with the partner, manage the partner as he is executing services on your behalf, monitor results and cost and cost effectiveness. Purpose is to optimize the result in terms of time money and service excellence along the way.
Vendor management deals with finding and having partners and finally stay in budgets and support the goals of your company by delivering the desired contribution to its success. This is the part where there is not too much room for creativity and solutions. This is the part where only figures count.
Partner management is about finding a cultural, ethical fit with your partner service provides, ensuring that you not only produce at the right price, but also contribute to the wellbeing of your end customers and make sure people in 2 businesses have not only the same goals but also understand each other.
Which one do you need? Actually both, if you intend to purchase services. If you are ordering office supplies the emotional component might be less of an issue to you.
How to do proper vendor management?
Stick to contract, lay down procedures, communicate them well and be strict at least up to a point where sticking to what is “right” harms the partnership. Vendor management is a broad silent flowing river. Things repeat, always happen the same way. Everybody knows how it is working, what to expect.
This leaves room for partner management.
Every time somebody from your partner approaches you with a question. First of all: Listen. Then think about the tradeoff between financial impact and value of partnership. Don´t get this wrong, this is not about being nice. But sometimes giving up on a small thing now will get you great extras in future. This needs empathy, experience and honesty.
Create an emotional bond to people you work with at your partner. Make sure that they understand how important that is to you. Care for the business as well as for the people running it. Ever tried to run a business without people? See!
Things that are important
- Create steady repeating interactions with the vendor / partner. Make sure procedure works.
- Always be responsive and try to be fast.
- Never think that your need is more important than needs of others. In case you can, always say it needs to go your way. But only for important reasons.
- Have contracts that everybody understands and create them in a way that they can and will be used in daily busines life by everybody.
- If the partner is not delivering as expected always do 2 things. First check if contract and your targets are supporting the expected service delivery. Second ask.
There is nothing wrong with doing things a first time, just make sure you have the right consultant to help you.