It all starts with finding the right vendors for your needs.
If you realize that you have a business need and you don’t have the knowledge base in house to solve it, you have two options. 1. Hire for that skillset internally or 2. Outsource for that skillset. Many business owners find that a more cost effective solution to finding talent is to outsource to the experts.
First ask yourself what it is you need. Are you looking for marketing expertise, a software provider, an accounting partner, a manufacturer or a developer for some web work? Maybe you don’t need to hire a full time employee to take care of these needs, you could rely on a 3rd party vendor to do it quicker/cheaper/better.
Step number one towards getting the most out of your vendors is not skimp on the vetting process! Ask your network for recommendations, do some Internet prospecting, read online reviews, find 3-4 options to assess via their sales process.
Use your company’s core values to determine whether a vendor is right for you. Does your company put utmost importance on providing quality products? Then ensure your vendors have the same business mantra. Is it a core competency of your business to always be transparent with your clients and services? Look for a vendor that has the same interactions in their sales process. Another quick hint is don’t be too price sensitive. Paying a bit more for vendor services could be an investment up front, but may save you time, money and headaches down the line.
Your ability to effectively establish a relationship with a 3rd party vendor will all start with deciding which one provides the best services and fits your company’s core values. You can then hold them accountable for ensuring that tasks are completed to or exceed your standards.
Find the right people to work with at the vendor company.
We see it every day in the real world; there are people that are passionate about what they do and those who aren’t. The last thing you want to do is work with someone who isn’t as zealous as your company about doing the work you need done. This is often a major frustration with 3rd party vendors that business owners deal with.
Many businesses dealing with SaaS vendors may find that their business model is heavily focused on servicing more customers with fewer resources, which means that they have only a handful of representatives servicing many clients. It’s important to consistently remind your account reps that you pay them for customer service, and that you are not just another name on their list. Establish a rapport, make sure they remember your name and your account, and get them excited to hop on the phone to chat with you! If they view you as a person with needs and enthusiasm for their work, they will be much more motivated to do their part.
Conversely, if you find that you are working with an account rep and they simply don’t uphold the quality of work you desire, don’t be afraid to contact the vendor and request a new rep. Who you work with at the company could make all the difference. If your account rep isn’t meeting your deadlines, communicating effectively, or proving progress on your projects these are major strikes in working with a vendor.
Step number two to getting the most out of your 3rd party vendors is working with the right person at their organization. Hiring a vendor who you will be doing work with is like hiring an internal employee. You wouldn’t ever hire someone with an attitude or work ethic problem, and working with a vendor that has the same issues will yield the same results.
Project manage your vendors to complete your needs quickly and effectively
Often the biggest frustration businesses may have with 3rd party vendors is lack of quality work or not getting work done on time. Most business owners are busy wearing may hats in their company’s operations, and may expect that a vendor can effectively manage their needs. This could be a major pitfall. Either make sure you are on top of your vendors or assign someone at your business to do so.
Step three in getting the most out of your 3rd party vendor is use your project management skills to ensure they are implementing quality work, doing it efficiently, and are managing their time to ensure your projects are completed on time. Don’t let your vendors be the reason your go-live date is pushed back. Don’t let them be the reason that you are providing products or services that don’t meet your customers’ expectations.
Do not be afraid to be a bit demanding, after all it’s what you are paying them for. Set up status check points to ensure they are on track, ask for quality control checks along the way, as well as double check everything yourself if you can. Being meticulous and paying attention to detail in your vendor relationships could be the difference between making or breaking your business.
January 25, 2016