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Combating IT Vendor Frustration for Towns and Cities

Person holding smartphone sitting at laptop
Mike Berzins
Mike Berzins, Product Coordinator

Information technology is already hard enough to manage, and its cost and complexity make it one of the most important investments for a municipality to manage. Unfortunately, managing multiple IT vendors turns this already difficult situation into a nightmare.

City managers and clerks often tell us about the difficulty of calling in for software support. When calling the vendor, they often encounter customer support representatives who talk over their heads, rush them too fast through an issue, or just plain fail to understand the problem because of communication barriers. Too many vendors unfortunately do not seem able to communicate effectively with non-technical customers, and they often make the non-technical customer feel at fault.

This situation is even more frustrating because towns and cities are strapped for time and often lack the technical expertise to know exactly how they should interact with their IT vendors. In addition, vendors are often trying to sell unnecessary products and add-ons to towns and cities as part of their “service,” so that makes municipal staff wary about how best to filter a vendor’s recommendations.

Here are three tips that may help you and your municipality manage IT vendors.

1. Hire a respected and trusted managed IT service provider to oversee vendor relationships for you.

Just like it’s good for lawyers to talk to lawyers, or doctors to doctors, it’s beneficial to have IT professionals talk to IT professionals. For example, we routinely take on all IT vendor communications when we work for a municipality. Our expertise, experience, and negotiating abilities keep IT vendors on their toes and focused on providing the best services for towns and cities. We make sure the warranties and accessories ordered are what the municipality actually needs (and not commission-based items that line the vendor’s sales team’s pockets).

2. Collect, understand, and reinforce all service agreements.

Understand what support covers. Make sure you document the details of these agreements and store all contact numbers in a handy place when something goes wrong. This documentation also makes it easier to hand off support details to your IT staff or IT vendor managing your infrastructure.

3. Understand exactly what a vendor provides.

Know what a vendor sells. If the vendor quotes services or uses terms that mystify you, ask them to get a sales engineer on the line. If you are not comfortable with the conversation, do not make the purchase until you can receive a solid explanation. Especially follow this advice with telephone service providers. Municipalities often sign up for telephone services they never use, which needlessly increases their monthly bills.

Vendor management can eat up a lot of time and overwhelm municipal staff. Often overlooked, it’s a part of IT that sneaks up on you – stealing away time, money, and productivity. As you’re considering IT services for your town or city, ask if the vendor’s engineers are experienced with municipalities and able to handle vendor management for you.

Need help with vendor management? Fill out the form below and we can schedule a conversation.

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