Partnering with vendors — the right vendors — plays a vital role in your organization’s success. And the stronger your relationships are with your vendors, the more successful you’re likely to be. Do your vendors really know your company and its brand? Are they truly reflecting what you’re all about? Or are they producing materials that more reflects their own branding?
The key is communication — clear, concise and done on a regular basis.
The process doesn’t end when the contract is signed: that’s just the beginning. Goals, expectations and deadlines must be clearly understood by both sides. As the “Project Management” textbook by Adrienne Watt notes, “90 percent of a project manager’s job is spent on communication so it’s important to make sure everybody gets the right message at the right time.”
90 percent of a project manager’s job is spent on communication.
PartnerComm has extensive experience helping clients communicate with their vendors to insure messages are properly aligned and everyone is working in sync. Here are just a few ideas on how to maximize project management using strong communication with your vendors:
- Establish a solid relationship with clear lines of communication from the outset. The stronger the connection between the organization and its vendors, the better. Get to know the vendors even before a contract is signed. Be sure there’s an open, direct line of communication established between your company’s point person on the project and the primary contact at the vendor.
- Set expectations and spell out your desires from the get-go. Communicate early and often.
- Make sure your vendor’s communication focuses on selling your company, not the vendor program. Don’t let vendors take “off-the-shelf” materials reflecting their brand without refocusing them to reflect your The goal is to sell your company, not the vendor. In internal communication, it’s all about conveying what’s important to your employees, and they’re expecting to get messages using the company brand and voice.
- Remember who’s the boss: your company, not the vendor. As one PartnerComm consulting writer notes, “You’re paying them a lot of money. You should be telling them what to do.” If companies don’t assert control of the process, “vendors can walk all over them.” As we have learned through experience, it can help to have a vendor like PartnerComm review communication drafted by others to ensure a cohesive message in the company’s voice.
- Insure that your vendor communication strategy and messaging reflect your company’s overall communication strategy. Make the relationship strategic rather than transactional. It’s vital to focus on the long haul and consider vendors to be strategic partners, as Comarch — an IT services company — emphasizes in a white paper on effective vendor management. Building a solid foundation of two-way trust is paramount to that. The best results come when the vendor is truly an extension of your team — a partner that contributes to problem solving, optimizing value and sharing risk.
Well-defined goals and expectations coupled with clear and consistent communication will help ensure success and put both your company and its vendors on a path to a true strategic partnership.