How To Effectively Handle Relationships With It Suppliers

Most businesses benefit from the use of cloud & IT tools which is usually supplied by certain vendor companies. Working with these vendor companies requires trust as there are numerous IT companies with services which vary in standards. As most businesses these days are adopting technology such as cloud & IT software for their day-to-day operations, there is a need to maintain good working relations with your IT suppliers in order to create long lasting beneficial engagements. These relationships ensure that business and systems management run smoothly.

There are various types of IT suppliers; there are software suppliers, hardware suppliers, and service and support providers. It is usually most appropriate to choose one IT supplier company for each.

The selection process

Selecting an IT supplier usually begins with a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for quotation (RFQ). Interested suppliers submit their RFP and the most suitable candidates are shortlisted to provide certain information in the form of a presentation. A company can be chosen based on the need of your company and track records of suppliers.

IT systems maintenance

After selecting the most viable company there are various contracts including terms and conditions that must be signed before contract is set in motion. The negotiation part on services is usually crucial to clarify functions and critical areas of the contract. If IT suppliers are meant to provide upgrades at certain periods they may want to evade these responsibilities on the long run by using various excuses.

Before purchasing any new machine to add to your office technology, always run this idea by your maintenance company in order to inform and remind them on terms of agreement. IT systems maintenance is not cheap; this is why there has to be a budget which is specific for the high priority technology. Some of the IT supplier services include;

  • Maintenance and replacement of devices
  • Hardware upgrades
  • Telephone, email and website supports
  • Software fees and licensing
  • Expanding storage size and communications
  • Computer usage compliance with industry standards
  • Training of staffs
  • Internet, Cloud & IT tools
  • Supply of Office machines such as printers, ink, paper and the likes

Contract negotiations can be a bit stiff including payment period. It is usually advisable to make payments after installation and testing of new machines and not before. While negotiating services there are loop holes for hidden costs which suppliers may want to explore as they may not be stated or emphasized in the contract. These extra services are;

  • Anti-virus and firewall maintenance
  • Telephone support
  • Software User training
  • Warranties on machines
  • Machine manuals
  • Frequent software upgrade
  • Remote monitoring of systems to diagnose glitches
  • Free consultation calls

Service level agreement

There is need for complete clarity when negotiating for long term services from an IT supplier. A most effective way to do this is to create a service level agreement. This document specifically states what to expect from a supplier and when to expect them. A service level agreement form should contain these;

  • Scope of service; number and types of hardware and software used by business
  • The range or particular set of service and limits
  • Service period
  • Response time, especially during emergencies
  • Time taken to fix problems
  • Documentation of records; problems treated
  • Additional provisions such as spare part and replacements
  • Conditions for termination of contracts and notices.

It suppliers can be managed to benefit your business. There are just a few tips to use when dealing with IT supplier companies.

  1. Don’t choose hastily. Take your time to research and ask the right questions before selecting a supplier
  2. Ask for references from these suppliers. A third party should be able to vouch for their services and don’t be reserved with your questions.
  3. Set the rules of service; your business has specific needs and these suppliers are bidding for the best company to take care of these needs, they can either play by your rules or reject the offer.
  4. Create service levels to clarify the terms of service with regular reporting.
  5. Challenge their services with benchmarks to keep them proactive. This will ensure maximum performance.