Turn your service desk into vendor management heroes


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15-May-2018 16:32:00

In my last piece, I talked about Problem Management and how it is often confused with Major Incident management. In fact, while the two are linked, they are very different beasts. However strong your Problem Management, you must be ready for business critical incidents.

How many vendors does your IT function work with?

How much of the vendor management piece does your Service Desk handle and can being more hands-on improve performance?

Defining vendor management roles

Vendor management is a process that ensures your business receives value for money that contracts are up to date and all vendor records are maintained. Alongside that piece is the interface between your organisation and each supplier. While some of the high-level management might sit with specialists or a service management function, much of the day-to-day communication can fall into the Service Desk’s domain.

For successful vendor management, you need to have defined roles and responsibilities within your organisation. Just as your own ticket resolution countdown doesn’t start until you receive contact, the same goes for your vendors. For this reason, we recommend the Service Desk takes on as much of that day-to-day escalation process as possible. Minimising the layers from user to vendor with direct contact from the desk will get those tickets moving faster.

Tracking 3rd party tickets

If the analysts logging the supplier-related tickets don’t feel accountable for the success of the vendor service, it is easy for escalated tickets to languish. It is important that the Service Desk has a process in place to keep track of tickets that are passed to a 3rd party -especially if affecting a user’s productivity. Part of the escalation process must include a follow-up to ensure it gets resolved.

Leveraging vendor SLAs

With each vendor relationship, you should have a contract with a Service Level Agreement. Details such as how quickly you can expect a response and resolution can help you manage requests, problems and incidents.

This is another reason to ensure you track these tickets from the service desk. Your business can’t know if it is receiving value from a vendor without having detailed reporting to hand. You can look at trends in resolution rates and cross-check them against your contract. If you have had major incidents relating to a vendor service, the service desk reporting is the first step to checking whether an appropriate root cause analysis has been conducted.

Driving efficiency with shift-left principles

With any 3rd party service, your own service desk can look for opportunities to take on more responsibility. Get your team skilled up so that your organisation has a more efficient service. If you are receiving high volumes of tickets relating to a particular vendor service, it works best if you can resolve them with your own 1st line or 2nd line support team.

Vendors should be only too happy to help you with the tools to employ this shift-left principle with:

  • Documentation for your Knowledge Management System.
  • Training members of your Service Desk team.
  • Agreeing on processes and ticket categorisation around escalations.

Perhaps the most effective place to start is by solving service requests at the Service Desk first. These are easier to implement than troubleshooting problems and it makes sense to at bring vendor management into your joiners and leavers’ process.

Once you have implemented a more hands-on approach to vendor management at the Service desk, you'll start to see demonstrable results in your reporting. Soon you will be able to show successes in the form of faster deployments, quicker resolutions and happier users.

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Pete Canavan
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About the author

Pete Canavan

Pete Canavan is Support Services Director at Plan-Net. An accredited ITIL Service Manager, he has a proven track record in IT with special expertise in the Legal & Financial Services industries.

With two decades in the IT field, Pete has acquired extensive experience in business relationship development, service transformation, project and people management, training and client/supplier relations.

Pete's other passions, besides Plan-Net of course, are his family and football.

Email Pete: p.canavan@plan-net.co.uk

Connect with Pete Canavan on LinkedIn

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