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Pick Great Partners to Build the Intelligent Data Center

Recently I talked about four steps to building the Intelligent Data Center. Step four was “turn vendors into partners”. Why is that important? It’s simple. More than half your money is spent outside the organization through vendors. If you want to meet your objectives you need their help.

IT vendors supply you with equipment, professional services, software, compute and applications As-A-Service, power, and more. Take a look at your overall IT budget. What percentage goes to your vendors?

Think about how you manage an employee team. You take your overall goals and turn them into individual objectives, with regular reviews and guidance. Use the same process to turn vendors into partners.

Kevin Hillstrom has written extensively about the vendor management process and how it applies to marketing teams. When I first read his columns I saw an immediate parallel to IT. Both groups depend heavily on outside vendors to accomplish their objectives. Guess what – no vendor shares your objectives, they just want to sell you things. That puts all the work on your side. But partners will work hand in hand with you.

Here’s his three step prescription for turning vendors into partners:

1. Make a table with all your vendors down the left hand side, and your business goals across the top. Add columns for innovation and customer service. You’ve probably got too many vendors, I know. Fixing that complexity is a great outcome!

IT Vendor Ranking Table

2. Every month grade each vendor on how they’re doing. Back up the grades with specifics because arguments waste time. Meet with them individually and let them know how they’re doing, sharing where they rank against the rest of your vendors. They’ll get the message.

3. Kick off each year with a meeting where you share your goals with all your vendors. The most senior IT executive should lay out the goals and tell the vendors how critical their help is. Then explain the vendor ranking process. They’ll be either excited or angry. Excited is good for you.

You’re going to compare your monitoring software vendor to your server provider to your last mile network company. Yes, that’s going to seem unfair, especially to the people at the bottom of the rankings. Tough.

Coming up with goals may be the hard part. Help your peers and share your goals! I’ll summarize the results and report back.

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