RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT: Being a Partner vs. Just Being a Vendor

Public Sector Perspectives 

Relationship Management:

Being a Partner vs. Just Being a Vendor

Historically, major information technology (IT) projects have failed at alarming rates. This is particularly true in the public sector.  It has been my experience that the relationship between service provider and the public sector entity can be a differentiator. In fact, it could literally define success or failure.

More recently most service providers propose to be partners with their public sector entities as a means to proclaim their commitment, overcome misunderstandings and mitigate adversarial relationships.  The term “partnership” however is not well defined and therefore open to interpretation.

From 1998 until my retirement in 2003 as state CIO for Pennsylvania, I managed in excess of $1.2 Billion in state IT projects.  Even though all service providers purported to have a partnership with state government, only a few acted as a partner.

The matrix below defines, from my perspective, the differences between just being a vendor (typical service provider) and being a true partner.

Financial Approach Sees Revenue Sees Opportunity
Executive Involvement When Problems Develop Continuously
Project Management Command & Control Collaborative
Knowledge Transfer Disinterested Viewed as a Mentor
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