When it comes to IT Vendor Management, our customers often express the following concerns related to vendors:

– Juggling multiple vendors

– Unreliable vendor performance

– Data security risks

– Unfavorable contracts and SLAs

– Vendor lock-in and high switching costs

A strategic approach to IT Vendor Management is essential to address these challenges effectively. In this article, we're going to discuss the most important things companies need to understand about IT Vendor Management and provide you with actionable strategies that you can use to manage your SaaS spend effectively.

Below we will cover the following:

Note: IT Vendor Management is a part of our comprehensive SaaS spend management platform – Spendflo that guarantees up to 30% savings. Schedule a free consultation with our vendor partnership experts and learn more about how we can help you optimize your IT spending, mitigate risks, and drive better outcomes from your vendor relationships

What is IT Vendor Management?

Almost every business relies on IT vendors to some extent. Whether for cloud storage, customer relationship management, or cybersecurity, these vendors play a crucial role in keeping your operations running smoothly.

However, managing these vendor relationships can be a complex and time-consuming task. It's not just about signing a contract and hoping for the best. You need to actively monitor their performance, ensure they're meeting your needs, and address any issues that arise.

That's where IT Vendor Management comes in. It's the process of overseeing and controlling your relationships with these vendors. This includes everything from selecting the right vendors in the first place to negotiating contracts, setting performance expectations, and performing regular vendor assessments.

In the following section, we'll explore some of the key best practices for effective IT Vendor Management.

What Are IT Vendor Management Best Practices?

Based on our experience working with customers on IT Vendor Management, these are the strategies we've found to be the most impactful. For each strategy, we've indicated both impact and ease as being either low, moderate, or high to help you prioritize which actions make the most sense for your business.

  1. Develop a tailored IT Vendor Management strategy 

Impact: High; Ease: Moderate

Modern IT Vendor Management Strategy

A one-size-fits-all approach to IT Vendor Management rarely works. Instead, develop a strategy that considers your organization's unique IT landscape, business objectives, and risk tolerance. 

This might involve:

  • Categorizing vendors based on criticality and spend
  • Defining specific performance metrics and SLAs for each vendor category
  • Establishing clear roles and responsibilities for IT Vendor Management, including who will lead contract negotiations, monitor performance, and manage risks
  • Developing a vendor communication plan that outlines frequency, channels, and escalation paths
  • Aligning IT Vendor Management with your IT governance framework and overall business strategy
  1. Implement outcome-based performance metrics 

Impact: High; Ease: Moderate 

Rather than focusing solely on traditional IT metrics like uptime and response time, consider implementing outcome-based performance metrics that tie vendor performance to specific business outcomes. 

For example:

  • For a cloud storage vendor, track metrics like data retrieval speed and availability, and tie them to business metrics like employee productivity and customer satisfaction
  • For a cybersecurity vendor, track metrics like time to detect and respond to threats, and tie them to business metrics like risk reduction and compliance
  • For a customer relationship management (CRM) vendor, track metrics like user adoption and data quality, and tie them to business metrics like sales growth and customer retention

  1. Conduct scenario-based vendor risk assessments 

Impact: High; Ease: Moderate 

In addition to traditional vendor risk assessments, consider conducting scenario-based risk assessments that explore how your vendors would respond to specific risk events. 

For example:

  • For a cloud vendor, assess their ability to maintain data security and availability during a cyberattack or natural disaster
  • For a critical software vendor, assess their ability to provide uninterrupted service during a major outage or bankruptcy
  • For a vendor with access to sensitive data, assess their ability to prevent and detect insider threats or data breaches

  1. Flag and resolve security concerns 

Impact: High; Ease: High 

Resolve Vendor Security Concerns with Vendor Trust

When working with IT vendors, it's important to quickly identify and address any security concerns that arise. This involves:

  • Establishing clear security requirements and expectations in vendor contracts and SLAs
  • Regularly monitoring vendor security practices and performance
  • Flagging any responses or behaviors that are not satisfactory or raise concerns
  • Escalating unsatisfactory responses or issues to internal stakeholders and IT Vendor Management teams
  • Documenting and tracking third-party security incidents and resolutions for future reference and continuous improvement
  1. Never miss your upcoming renewals 

Impact: High; Ease: High 

Monitor your upcoming renewals with Spendflo

Staying on top of vendor contract renewals is critical for ensuring uninterrupted service, avoiding last-minute rushes, and maximizing the value of your IT investments. To never miss a renewal, consider:

  • Maintaining a centralized calendar or database of all vendor contracts and renewal dates
  • Setting up automated alerts and reminders for upcoming renewals, well in advance of the actual renewal date
  • Tracking existing usage and license consumption to accurately estimate future requirements
  • Conducting a thorough review of vendor performance, pricing, and value delivered before each renewal

Fast Track Your SaaS Renewals Now

How IT Vendor Management helps

Here are four key areas where IT Vendor Management can provide significant benefits:

Visibility of App Ownership: 

IT Vendor Management helps organizations maintain a clear understanding of which applications and services are being provided by each vendor. This ensures that all apps are properly managed, maintained, and secured. 

Meaning, that organizations can quickly identify the responsible vendor when issues arise, streamline communication, and ensure that all necessary updates and patches are applied promptly. 

Find all your Vendor Data in one place

Centralized Contracts: 

Effective SaaS Vendor Management includes centralizing all vendor contracts in a single repository. This provides a single source of truth for all vendor agreements, making it easier to track key terms, renewal dates, and compliance requirements. It also facilitates collaboration between procurement, legal, and IT teams, ensuring that all stakeholders have access to the most up-to-date information. 

Control of Application Licenses: 

IT Vendor Management helps organizations maintain tight control over their application licenses. By tracking the number of licenses purchased, deployed, and utilized, organizations can ensure that they are not overpaying for unused licenses or risking non-compliance with vendor agreements. It helps to accurately forecast future needs, budget for renewals, and make data-driven decisions about their software portfolio. This level of control can lead to major cost savings, as organizations can avoid over-purchasing licenses, negotiate better terms based on actual usage data, and identify opportunities to consolidate or standardize their application stack.

SOC 2 Compliance: 

IT Vendor Management plays a critical role in ensuring that all external service providers are SOC 2 compliant. By incorporating SOC 2 compliance requirements into vendor selection and contracting processes, organizations can ensure that their vendors have the necessary controls in place to protect sensitive data and maintain high levels of security and availability. 

Cons of Not Following IT Vendor Management Best Practices

Neglecting IT Vendor Management best practices can lead to a host of problems that can hurt your organization's bottom line and put your data at risk. 

Here are four major pitfalls to watch out for:

  1. SaaS Waste

When different departments or individuals purchase SaaS apps without central oversight, you end up with redundant apps that do the same thing. You're essentially throwing money down the drain on subscriptions you don't need. Plus, without regularly reviewing your SaaS usage, you'll keep paying for apps that no one uses anymore.

  1. Underutilized Licenses 

Buying more software licenses than you need is a huge waste of money. If you don't keep track of how many licenses you're actually using, you'll miss out on chances to right-size your agreements or find better options. This makes it tough to plan and budget for the future.

  1. Shadow IT and SaaS Wastage

When employees use apps without IT's approval, it's called shadow IT. This leads to wasted money on duplicate apps and puts your data at risk. These rogue apps might not meet your company's security and compliance standards, which can cause data breaches, legal trouble, and compatibility issues.

  1. Cybersecurity Threats 

If you don't vet your vendors' security practices, you're leaving yourself wide open to cyberattacks. This is especially dangerous when vendors can access your sensitive data or connect to your internal networks. Without regular risk assessments and security audits, you might not even know about weak spots until it's too late. A vendor-related breach can cost you big time in terms of money, reputation, and legal consequences.

How Spendflo Helps Implement Effective IT Vendor Management

Spendflo is your go-to platform for streamlining  IT Vendor Management. It provides a centralized hub for all your vendor contracts, SaaS subscriptions, and software licenses, making it easy to stay on top of your vendor relationships. Here's how Spendflo's features can benefit your organization:

Centralized Contracts 

Spendflo acts as a single source of truth for all your vendor contracts. By keeping everything in one place, you can easily track key details like renewal dates, compliance requirements, and contractual obligations. With Spendflo, you can avoid missed renewals, identify opportunities for renegotiation, and ensure your vendors are meeting their commitments.

Bird’s Eye View of Vendors’ Data

Fast-trak collaboration on security reviews with TPRA

Spendflo provides a comprehensive view of your IT vendor landscape, giving you better control over your SaaS applications, software licenses, and vendor performance. You can easily track usage metrics to identify underutilized licenses and optimize your subscriptions. Spendflo also enables you to monitor vendor performance against SLAs and KPIs, ensuring you're getting the value you expect. 

Eliminates Risk 

Strengthen your vendor security practices

Spendflo helps you eliminate risks associated with IT Vendor Management. The platform automates vendor risk assessments and security audits, providing continuous monitoring of vendor security practices and compliance. If any potential risks or compliance issues arise, Spendflo alerts you immediately, allowing you to take swift action. When a vendor relationship ends, Spendflo's offboarding processes ensure you can retrieve your data and protect your organization's interests. Stop managing your IT vendors in silos. Adopt Spendflo now to streamline your SaaS stack.

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Ajay Ramamoorthy
Senior Content Marketer
Karthikeyan Manivannan
Head of Visual Design
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