Take My Vendor… Please
Henny Youngman’s most famous one-liner, “Take my wife…please,” makes me chuckle every time I hear it. It’s the classic redirect. Initially, you believe it’s the start of a charming anecdote or perhaps an accolade endearing her to the audience and then it turns into a desperate plea to actually take her away. Clever and amusing.
The sentiment relayed in this one-liner is a familiar one that I frequently hear discussed by telecom management practitioners about their telecom vendors. The intent is not to amuse, though – it’s to relay a sense of frustration with vendor performance that has fallen short. Vendor performance is a critical element of overall telecom environment performance and if vendors don’t perform as expected, then the enterprise telecom environment cannot perform as expected. Enterprises should monitor and evaluate vendors’ technical, financial and operational performance frequently.
Technical and financial performance are monitored with service level agreements and expense management practices, but operational performance monitoring requires a different effort. Operational performance addresses all business processes between enterprises and vendors. Examples include:
- Generating proposals, quotes and contract renewals
- Professional and managed service delivery
- Service order completion
- Trouble ticket resolution
- Relationship dispute resolution
A vendor’s operational performance is often a primary cause of enterprise dissatisfaction. If a vendor is not responsive, fails to follow through with commitments or lacks the resources to address operational elements of the business relationship, then friction mounts and vendor dissatisfaction increases.
To prevent issues from becoming significant relationship problems, enterprises should proactively and formally establish operational expectations with all vendors. Documenting performance measurement criteria and agreeing to SLAs and KPIs that define acceptable performance sets the right relationship expectations.
This action is ideally performed at the onset of the relationship, but if it wasn’t or if the relationship becomes strained, set a meeting to discuss and confirm expectations to move the business relationship forward.