Enterprises muster in-house vendor wranglers

Some Australian IT departments are picking up on the trend within global companies and setting up a dedicated office to manage and maintain vendor relationships.

While each organization tackles this task differently, a growing number of local companies are considering the introduction of a vendor management office (VMO) to track relationships and transactions.

British Airways IT manager in Australia Mark Pavlides certainly sees no harm in employing this idea, pointing out that the organization already has such a department in its UK offices.

"In Australia we have a similar set up, though not as formal, but we do have particular people who deal with vendors, though this is not the only aspect of their role. We don't have the resources to have one person solely dedicated to this position," Pavlides said.

"I think the better vendors, the reputable ones, are happy to stay in the loop and have an ongoing relationship with you, so they don't need as much careful management."

University of Sydney team leader of enterprise systems Craig Hamilton agrees that most of his regular vendors are easy enough to manage.

"Most of the vendors we deal with generally have good structures in place, like good account managers, to help us along, but it can be difficult to keep them interested once you've signed on the dotted line," Hamilton said.

The University of Sydney has just started experimenting with specific vendor management proposals and only recently created the role of business relations manager in its newly restructured IT department.

"The business relations manager oversees all our external relationships with vendors," Hamilton said.

"I guess the benefit is that there's one single point of contact for vendors."

But for Puma Australia information systems manager Ben Dallenger the role wouldn't fit within his organization.

"For a large organization I think a vendor manager would be a wise idea, but for SMBs, which we would probably fall under, I don't think it's necessary.

"Puma International may consider it, but we, as the Australian subsidiary, wouldn't have a great need for it," Dallenger said.

But he can certainly see the benefits of such a role.

"If someone was in this position purely involved in vendor management they would be able to get closer to the vendor and do more research and investigation into different products and offerings," Dallenger said.

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