Managing projects were vendors are playing a significant role can offer its challenges. When vendors are depended on to provide a design, infrastructure or software installation and configurations you will always have a risk you cannot completely control.
As you would expect, some vendors are better than others. You have vendors that are well organized, have good communication skills and project processes. Others require more hand holding or can be a complete challenge to work with.
Here are a few tips for working with vendors:
- Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities
- Have YOUR Plan. It is not uncommon for professional services to include their own project manager who will promote their schedule and processes. This is fine. However, I have made it my rule that i will build my plan and capture the vendor’s milestones and key tasks. I will use my plan to drive the effort since ultimately as the project manager i will be responsible for the success or falure.
- Establish a contingency plan that identifies key risks associated with your vendor.
- Know your escalation path. If a vendor is not delivering escalate early after you have made a reasonable effort to resolve the issue as part of your management of the project.
- Build a rapport with your vendor and your project management partners. Building a strong relationship based on respect, honesty and professionalism will go a long way to help you and the project team to be successful.