By Cameron Hickerson, Project Coordinator, PMP at SiteREADY
Managing technology vendors during a workplace build-out can be tedious, time-consuming and–if things don’t go as planned–frustrating. Without a single, coordinated construction schedule setting the pace, every IT vendor ends up having their own set of deliverables and communication channels outside the required workflow. And, the number of vendors involved tends to multiply as a project progresses. How do you keep track of it all, much less ensure you are getting quality products and services at competitive prices? Here are a few tips:
- Vet the Best
The best vendors rise to the top during the procurement process. Leverage a thorough request for proposal (RFP) process combined with an effective project package to engage multiple vendors, and you will find that several will automatically knock themselves out of the running with a poorly formulated response. First impressions say a lot in this business. Choosing vendors that present themselves professionally and communicate effectively is one of the simplest bits of advice I can give; but it’s also one of the most important.
- Know Who’s Who
Speaking of communicating effectively, you can save yourself a lot of wasted motion by identifying the right people to communicate with in the first place. Is it the Estimator? The Project Manager? Sometimes, the former is more direct and reliable. In other cases, the latter will have a better handle on everything that might be required for a specific scope of work.
Even the clearest communication falls flat if it’s directed toward the wrong person. Know who the best “go-to” is for a particular request or concern, and avoid the telephone game. Successful communication with the correct individuals keeps project deadlines on track, helps identify and develop proactive risk strategies and minimizes the likelihood of costly mistakes.
- Curate Information
Providing too much information is just as problematic as failing to provide enough information. Strive for efficiency. Find the perfect balance so that vendors receive all the directions and details they need, minus the extraneous. Whether it’s an internal team member, stakeholder or vendor, each audience will be unique in terms of how you curate their information. Establish an open line and a running dialogue so you don’t feel the need to cram too much into any one email or conversation.
- Keep an Eye Out for Complacency
It’s great building a rapport and having ongoing relationships with IT service suppliers, but occasionally, long-term vendors can become too comfortable and begin to underperform. We call this vendor complacency, which my colleague, Phil Rosatone, discusses in this article. He makes a great point in suggesting that clients often contribute to vendor complacency by sending out RFPs that are lacking in detail.
Again, communication is every bit as much your responsibility as it is vendors’. The vendors we select are representations of ourselves in the field, and thus their ideals and core values need to be aligned with our own. Providing effective RFPs and conducting bidding processes will maintain quality performance. While there are benefits with ongoing vendor relationships, there is no harm in keeping a competitive environment.
- Set a SPOC
Did I mention efficient and effective communication is key? Ten years ago, technology costs represented roughly 7 percent of a construction budget. Today, they consume 25 percent or more of a total build-out cost. These numbers come from industry leader, JLL, and we can extrapolate from them the need to update the way we manage technology during a build-out.
SiteREADY is challenging the routine in Corporate Real Estate by serving as a single point of contact (SPOC) for IT vendor management, meaning we become the only technology team you’re in touch with, from RFP through project completion. This consolidates the communication chain, helping to keep projects on track and within budget. Learn more about our technology vendor management services.