Insights from the CIO Roundtable
IT Visionaries producer Aaron Gerlitz returns to the podcast to discuss and dissect the key takeaways from the most recent CIO Roundtable.
Aaron breaks down exactly what it means to be a vendor versus a partner, he details his favorite vendor story and then reveals how the voice of the customer is one of the most important feedback loops for a company to zero in on.
Topics Discussed: Vendors, voice of the customer, IT, CIO.
Welcome Back Aaron — (1:00)
- Live from Utah, Aaron joins Ian to talk about CIO Roundtable No. 2, including insights into vendors, vendor management and what that means for IT professionals.
Initial thoughts — (2:20)
- A CIO has a different perspective than a project manager.
- “Vendor is a dirty word,” was one of the quotes that really stood out.
- “Vendor is a word you use with someone you don’t really trust. When you have a good relationship with someone, you’re more likely to refer to them as a partner.”
Best practices for managing relationships — (4:40)
- There are different kinds of relationships and they need to be managed differently, especially when dealing with IT professionals.
- The biggest mistake is not keeping a good cadence when you’re in the project phase.
- Not having a feedback channel can lead to big problems between account managers, IT managers, and vendors.
- There are a lot of moving parts and agendas, so how do you keep everyone on the cadence that will yield success?
- Having continuity the whole way through is a big part of it.
- Make sure there are handoffs and conversations to discuss the benefits and challenges of projects.
Stories, good and bad, in implementing vendor relationships — (8:15)
- In Afghanistan, Aaron was working in a country-level network operations center helping vendors get line-of-sight communications and operations up and running.
- The Problem: A vendor that was providing links in the country was not providing information about outages and updates. The communication was not where it needed to be.
- The Solution: It took time to build and establish a new relationship and by asking basic questions, it led to the vendor being held accountable for things they weren’t in the past. By doing overall analysis and providing a report to the vendor that detailed what was happening, how the problems were fixed in the past and what solutions might be best, a mutually beneficial relationship was built.
Voice of the customer — (12:20)
- Some background: Voice of the customer is a feedback loop.
- You shouldn’t expect that just because you have a need that the provider will install a solution immediately. But if they hear the same problem from multiple people, they know how to prioritize.
- Communicating those priorities and ensuring you have a stable product are important for any provider.
- “You don’t want to be the guy that’s crying wolf all the time.”
- There has to be governance and a point person who investigates customer requests and determines if the request will help the customer and the company.
- The CIO of a company gets engaged when you have fundamental issues, but when you’re talking about voice of the customer enhancement, that should get run through a business partner.