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Vendor Management Skills: A Critical Skill Set You Should Include in Every Interview

Vendor management skills are essential to ensure the successful execution of your IT strategy. The ability to objectively navigate, negotiate, perform conflict resolution, and effectively execute analytical evaluation will be required at every level in IT.

Increasingly, the current trend is for companies to spend more on vendors than employees. Let’s look at the TV company Vizio. In 2017 it achieved 2 billion in revenue with just 80 employees. You cannot deliver results such as this without coordinating vendors effectively to execute a great strategy.

Consider your IT department:

  • Do you have more employees than vendors?
  • Would you say that you are spending more on vendors than on employees?
  • Is the success of your IT strategy largely dependent on the success of your vendor strategy?
  • Do you onboard proportionately more vendors than new employees?

If you answered yes to these scenarios or can envision these in the near future in your company, then your IT department will be increasingly reliant on vendor management skills to successfully manage the selection, evaluation, and performance of your vendors.

Organizations need to shift their IT staff’s skill sets from today’s highly technical, well-certified, highly experienced, scientifically inclined skills to tomorrow’s business skills, such as relationship management, conflict management, vendor acquisition, vendor management, negotiations, and contract review.

Looking back at your career, are you managing more vendors today than you were three, five, or ten years ago? The answer probably is yes. With that in mind, when you interview new candidates it is highly advised that you include vendor management skills as part of your candidate evaluation process.

Our Take

IT staff needs are transitioning from highly technical “walk the walk” competencies to “talk the talk” capabilities for managing vendors that have the “walk the walk” skill sets. Tomorrow’s IT professionals will be more valued when they understand how to source, manage vendors’ performance, and negotiate contracts. Therefore, vendor management is a critical business skill set that all IT professionals and IT leadership should develop and recruit for to ensure the success of their IT strategy.

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