There are countless sayings that espouse the value of simplicity—”Less is more,” “Don’t use a lot where a little will do,” and even the design principle, “Keep it simple, stupid.” The moral is: practitioners of all different skill sets and fields can improve their work by streamlining it and bringing a little more simplicity into their lives. In the world of business and technology, these mantras apply to the relationships IT decision-makers have with their IT service provider(s).
One key aspect of a successful IT team is efficiency, in terms of both productivity and cost. To optimize resources, IT pros should periodically review and reevaluate their vendor relationships to ensure they are delivering real value. This applies to all types of service providers, too. The more complex your network of IT service providers, the less efficient it will be, which is why you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to consolidate your vendor relationships.
Measure the value of your vendors and consolidate
Today, the technology industry is inundated with different types of service providers. From cloud storage and enterprise resource planning software to managed print services, it seems like there’s an IT service provider to meet just about every need. The downside to this abundance is that you can quickly find yourself tangled in a complicated web of vendors that requires significant time and resources to manage. The whole point of outsourcing is to free your organization from having to handle that task internally, so it’s important your vendor relationships actually promote efficiency rather than detract from it.
According to Nearshore Americas, which covers the IT outsourcing space, vendor consolidation can help organizations reduce costs, improve governance, advance technologies, and control vendor risks. For instance, working with a new vendor—perhaps a buzzy startup—can be risky, because there’s no guarantee they’ll be around in a year or two. Other consolidation benefits include:
- Greater predictability and reliability
- Increased purchase power
- Stronger vendor relationships
- Easier vendor management
You can enhance your business’s IT operations by being thoughtful, deliberate, and concise with each type of IT service provider you work with. However, consolidating vendors is only an effective strategy if you pick the right vendors—with fewer vendors, there’s more riding on each.
Vet your options to find a truly strategic, long-term partner
When embarking on the vendor consolidation process, start by identifying which vendors you can let go by asking a few targeted questions, like:
- Is the vendor delivering on their initial promise?
- If you are working with a cybersecurity provider, have they prevented security breaches?
- If you are working with a customer support service provider, are complaints and escalations being resolved satisfactorily?
According to Gatekeeper’s guide to vendor management, this is why it is so important to establish clear KPIs (both quantitative and qualitative) at the beginning of vendor relationships. That way, when it’s time to evaluate, the metrics are clear—which makes it easier to see, understand, and communicate a vendor’s value to leadership. Other factors to consider are whether costs are spiraling or the service requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep.
Once you’ve identified opportunities for consolidation, the next step is to identify vendors that can fulfill a variety of service requirements. Here, you’ll need to look for depth and breadth. Take HP, for example, which offers a diverse selection of services solutions. Through HP’s managed print services program alone, clients receive assessment, setup, reporting, optimization, and many other features. Having all these services in one place can lower operating and IT costs, inform business decisions, protect sensitive data and documents, and free up the IT workforce to focus on other matters. Moreover, HP can continue to fulfill the IT service provider needs for companies as they evolve and grow, thanks to their robust offerings.
Remember: It’s all about collaboration
Ultimately, the best vendors are more than suppliers—they are partners who can fully commit to understanding your business and its needs. As a result, it’s not just core services that matter; other criteria for vendor partners should include lead and implementation times, quality assurance, and payment terms and conditions. If you already have a strong relationship with one vendor and are pleased with their performance and support, explore what other services they have to offer. Also, look for longevity. When putting more eggs in one basket, it’s imperative each vendor has staying power.
The goal of consolidating IT service providers is to get the most value out of those relationships and drive efficiency for your organization. Finding a partner that can provide a range of services, satisfy your needs, and meet your performance objectives—all while keeping costs down and communication open—is what defines a superior vendor. Remember: less is more.