Using Adaptive Leadership to Develop Vendor Relationships

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vendor management sourcing life cycle

3 Keys to Better Vendor Management

Using vendors to complement and supplement workflows within your organization has many benefits, but it can also introduce some challenges. Multiple people outside the organization could be working on the same project, but not necessarily aware of one another’s work. Adaptive leadership – and the ability to harness the domains of strategy, work, and people – holds the key to ensuring that collaboration between project leaders and vendors leads to a successful partnership and better project outcomes.

These three tips will help you facilitate improved strategic sourcing and vendor management:

1. Create a Culture of Communication

Both the project leader and vendor need to have strong people skills – such as influence, teamwork, and communication – in order for a project to succeed. Whether it’s explaining the project at the outset or informing the other party about deadlines or potential delays, open communication is a critical part of vendor management.

As adaptive leaders, you can promote this type of culture by exhibiting it to your vendors—informing them as much as you can about information that may not be directly applicable to their portion of a project may help them understand the big picture and also make them feel like part of a united team. Additionally, you should express your expectations about communication by letting your vendors know that you are going to communicate openly with them and you expect them to do the same. Establish a regular cadence and preference for communication so that all project stakeholders are on the same page.

2. Facilitate Understanding

Communication is further served by developing an understanding (or competence) in multiple areas of a project or organization. Just as it benefits a project leader to understand the roles and responsibilities of team members and coworkers, it can also benefit your vendors (and how you work with them) to develop this skill in them.

Through the open communication you have established, you can help your vendors understand not only their role but where that service fits in and complements roles that the organization or other vendors are doing. This level of understanding also helps set expectations for vendors because they can see how their role is critical to the project as a whole. If vendors have a sense of the bigger picture of your organizational vision – even if some projects don’t directly affect them – it will help them better understand where they fit into your overall strategy.

3. Encourage Collaboration

Building competence in your vendors goes beyond just providing them with the big picture. As your vendors start thinking on levels beyond their specific part of a project, they will gain a greater ability to collaborate with the team and other vendors. Vendors with multiple competencies can then work in ways that are fluid and can adapt and address the needs of a project as things shift or change. As approaches become integrated, your team and vendors are better positioned to have vision to see the project successfully through to the end because each piece of the project can move seamlessly into the next.

Managing vendor relationships comes with its challenges, but by understanding how vendors touch and influence the areas of strategy, work, and people, you can develop an adaptive skill set that allows you to foster positive and successful partnerships outside your organization.

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