Every association wants a good relationship with their technology vendor, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Relationships can go sour because of inconsistent communication, missed deadlines, faulty expectations, or even personality conflicts.
A good relationship doesn’t just happen on its own. Each side has to make an effort to nurture the relationship. To improve your relationships with technology vendors, try adopting these practices:
- Build trust through regular communication and empathy so your relationship becomes a partnership in which both parties look out for the best interest of the other.
- Meet or exceed promised deadlines so the vendor can keep the project moving as expected and can schedule the appropriate resources to accomplish the tasks at hand.
- Trust in the vendor’s estimated timelines instead of setting your own arbitrary deadlines.
- Include the vendor in preliminary discussions of any potential projects so they have the opportunity to provide advice.
- Schedule a regular meeting, at least annually, with the executive teams from both your organizations to discuss each other’sstrategic plans and future directions.
When relationships start to become adversarial, the negative consequences can quickly enter a downward spiral. Communication shuts down, trust is eroded, simple tasks become a challenge, and projects are difficult to bring to completion.
As soon as you realize that things are going south, you must immediately and proactively begin to rebuild your relationship.
- Open up communication. Where were expectations met, not met, and exceeded? What limitations are preventing expectations from being met?
- Redefine expectations, if necessary, and discuss the changes required to meet those expectations. For example, if the vendor requests a weekly meeting, support them by scheduling and participating in the meetings.
- Recommit to the project and deliverable deadlines.
- Document all expectations and project requirements so everyone is clear on what will be delivered, what will be expected from both parties, and who will be responsible for each task.
- Start fresh by looking forward and focusing on what can be done versus what went wrong.
Repairing a damaged relationship takes far more work than building a positive partnership. Avoid the pain involved in salvaging a relationship by investing time up front to establish a solid foundation for the relationship. Don’t take the relationship for granted—continue to nurture it so you can reap the benefits of a true partnership.