Begin with the End in Mind:

Organizing and Conducting Effective Multi-Vendor IT Governance Meetings

Managing multiple vendors requires a clear strategy focused on driving business goals, regular open communications, and strong leadership. Conducting effective governance meetings is a critical component of ensuring those pieces are in place. But in order for them to be productive, it is critical that business and IT leaders set the agenda and begin with the end in mind.

Conducting and planning effective vendor meetings can be challenging. Without a clear agenda, it is easy to get off-topic and focused on the wrong priorities. To prevent problems and have more productive multi-vendor meetings, it is important to understand your overall objectives, determine your specific needs, develop plans accordingly, and stay focused on achieving the end state.

What is effective IT vendor governance?

Among other things, IT governance allows companies to build better relationships with vendors, continuously improve service and innovate. Understanding what good governance looks like within your environment must be considered. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Before planning a program of regular meetings, it is important to have a clear idea of where you are headed and what makes a governance strategy effective. Effective multi-vendor IT governance incorporates the right mix of skilled personnel, relationship building disciplines, and management tools and techniques from both you and the vendor.

Key tenets of IT governance include:

  • Mutual respect
  • Quantitative and qualitative measurements
  • Candid information sharing
  • Continuous improvement and innovation
  • Ongoing opportunities for business value and growth

Key meeting topics

Setting the agenda for a multi-vendor governance meeting is critical to ensuring it is productive. IT vendor governance should cover six key areas: contracts, relationships, performance, projects, continuous improvement and innovation, and financials. Meetings should be structured around addressing several of these key topics.

Contract Management – Managing contractual commitments to agreements and service delivery models, dispute resolution, and maintaining contract legal documents are critical components of managing vendors. Key meetings include escalating issues and disputes (via predefined processes) and reviewing contractual deliverables and event triggers (e.g. adjusting SLAs, resource levels or pricing renegotiations).

Relationship Management – This area focuses on customer satisfaction, overseeing relationships to ensure alignment, and working with the vendor to manage risk. Key meetings and deliverables are overall program communications planning and execution, customer satisfaction survey reviews, and vendor risk assessments.

Performance Management – This area involves measuring and monitoring delivery performance in relation to SLAs, reviewing deliverables and trends, and monitoring aggregate incident, problem, root cause, and change management performance data for all relevant vendors. Key meeting topics include monthly performance measurement reports (with a rolling twelve-month performance period) and quarterly multi-vendor aggregated performance reports (e.g. Priority 1 incidents, Root Cause Analyses (RCAs), and change management success).

Project Management – In order to keep projects running smoothly, companies need to implement systems to measure and monitor project control and execution performance, review schedules, issues, risks and mitigating actions and compare budget to actuals, and estimates to completions. Key meetings include monthly measurement reports, quarterly multi-vendor reports, and aggregated performance reports.

Continuous Improvement and Innovation – Companies must constantly work with vendors to improve solutions, capture new markets, and reduce costs. Governance programs should be in place to establish multi-vendor processes for vendors to submit ideas, business cases, proposals, and hold briefings to discuss partnership and other innovation topics. Key meetings should include monthly reviews of individual submissions and client decisions on each and quarterly collaborations between clients and vendors to share strategic and tactical business and IT intelligence and information on emerging trends.

Financial Management – The financial management component of governance validates and manages costs, monitors the economics of contracts, and ensures that value propositions and expected benefits are realized. Key meetings are monthly invoice reviews, quarterly financial or budget scorecards, and value proposition management. Organizing productive, tactical, and strategic multi-vendor governance meetings can allow companies to take better advantage of IT vendor relationships. WGroup has the experience in working with cross-industry clients to determine your specific needs and assist in developing a customized multi-vendor IT governance program.

By establishing an ongoing program for all parties to regularly discuss goals, resolve problems, and set agendas, you can drive more aggressively towards successful relationships and achieving mutual objectives.

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