In the project management world, vendors are an essential third party providing a product or are contracted to perform agreed works on a project. They are key to ensuring that the project manager’s goals are executed and it is important to learn how to manage vendor relationships to ensure project success (completion by deadline and within budget).
- Be as clear as possible about your expectations. When working with a vendor, it is important that as the project manager, you are able to express what you want achieved with that vendor. You must be able to ensure that the vendors are aware of how you operate and what the criteria is for a successful project. It is also important to bring up how you and the vendor will handle tricky situations if they arise. Most importantly, you and the vendor should establish clear rules of respect and engagement.
- Have a strategy for working with vendors. Keep in mind the following questions when dealing with a vendor:
- When do you need them? How will you select them?
- Do you have a backup plan when things go wrong?
- How will you be assessing their performance?
- Is this the first time you are working with this vendor? If not, what can you learn from others who have worked with this vendor?
- Ensure updates for progress are clear. As a project manager, you should expect progress updates when dealing with a vendor. How often you want updates and how you want the updates should be made clear with the vendor. Both should discuss progress requirements early on in the project to make sure there is a clear consensus on frequency, content, and style.
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