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Do Your Vendors Speak Project Management?

When your organization is going through a major renovation or adding another wing, there is of course a need for a project manager. More and more often, even smaller projects are given a manager to ensure they meet expectations, and are completed on time and on budget.  All too often however issues arise when managing a project and they can lead to missed expectations.  Often times these delays happen as a result of an outside partner not fulfilling their required task. Often times a small delay in one area can have a massive impact on another.

With this in mind there are a few things that can be done when selecting vendors to help reduce the possibility of a project going off the rails.

  1. Ask for references and call them! It is surprising how often this is overlooked. Make sure you ask specific questions such as
    1. Did the vendor complete their task on time and where there any cost over runs?
    2. Will you use them again and would you recommend them for other projects?
    3. What would be the one area you would like the vendor to improve upon?

There should be no hesitation when you ask if they would use them again.

  1. Use standard products. While there is often a design criteria that might want an original/unique product, these should be avoided wherever possible. It is important that you ask the vendor questions about their lead times, and if products are part of an inventory or are made to order. This is more and more important in the age of offshore manufacturing and online catalogs. Ask for samples, and if the project warrants, ask for an onsite visit from the vendor. There is no substitute for knowing the people you are going to rely heavily on.
  2. Allow the vendor to be responsible for a complete facet of the project instead of smaller pieces. As an example when we are asked to provide wall cladding and safety rails, clients often provide us with the blueprints and have our team spec out the products and quantities required for the entire job. Apart from some color or material questions, we are able to provide a turnkey quote that includes installation. This enables the project manager to focus on larger tasks knowing that one facet of the job is all under one roof.

If it seems like many of these points are plain common sense, they are! As you know, project management is not a flashy business. It should be boring. It should be methodical. It should be mundane. If your vendor seems more like a sales person and less of a partner, than it might be a good idea to do some investigating. Choosing a vendor with strong project management skills will allow you to focus on other pressing issues within your organization.

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