Strategic IT Partnerships: Framing a Better Sourcing Strategy

All organizations need to strategically manage their IT sources to fulfill their needs in the most efficient way.  Many companies leverage hundreds of vendors to support their IT operations as well as a select core of strategic partners with whom they collaborate for mutual success.

At EMC IT, we are incorporating industry best practices into a newly launched Enterprise Vendor Management Office (EVMO) to bring our IT sourcing strategy to a new level of efficiency.

Collaborating to set a framework

Our EVMO is a virtual organization – establishing a framework and rules of engagement – through which groups across EMC coordinate their IT vendor management activities. The groups involved in establishing and using this framework are:

  • Business Units (business function)
  • IT Service Centers (centers overseeing IT service delivery)
  • IT Demand Centers (IT groups that partner with specific business groups)
  • IT Supplier Management, Corporate Indirect Procurement (CIP)
  • Finance, Legal and.Partners (outside vendors/suppliers)

Each of these entities has their specific responsibilities and deliverables, but they are all interconnected and they interact with each other on a frequent basis.

To help define our EVMO, we have tapped into the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)—an industry-recognized set of standard practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business. Our incorporation of ITIL into our EVMO is part of a comprehensive effort to transform our IT operations to an IT-as-a-Service operating model.

A good thing about ITIL is that it is a framework, and one doesn’t have to implement every single aspect of the methodology, but one can choose the best practices and guidelines that make sense for their particular organization. What made sense for EMC IT, as it relates to supplier management, was to take some of those key best practices and implement them as part of a larger EVMO strategy.

In accordance with ITIL, our IT Supplier Management team, made up of IT experts who oversee the various categories of vendors IT uses, and handles the end-to-end relationship between IT and its vendors and partners.

Our overall EVMO structure is made up of focus areas to address key components of our IT sourcing: Strategic Partnership; Partner Selection and Negotiation; Contract Execution and Compliance; and Analytics, Process and Communication. This blog explains the first and most fundamental pillar, Strategic Partnership, and how we have leveraged ITIL in governing this crucial supplier management component. We will explore the other focus areas in subsequent blogs.

Strategic Partnership

Before your IT operation can select partners, execute contracts with them and analyze the results of such alliances, it needs to define the key elements and practices that make up a Strategic Partnership. So this pillar provides practices and Capture2programs that range from developing an overall IT strategic sourcing roadmap to organizing and conducting strategy and technology sessions with partners. It seeks to understand how EMC can leverage a partner’s portfolio as well as size up the future outlook of a supplier relationship in terms of growth, change, etc.

The underlying goal of Strategic Partnership for the IT Supplier Management team (in collaboration with IT and Corporate Indirect Procurement) is to ensure that each vendor and strategic partner properly aligns with IT. It also defines how to manage those relationships throughout the interaction lifecycle.

It’s only through these strong relationships that both EMC and each partner can work towards their own specific goals. The IT Supplier Management team not only works with IT and each strategic partner to establish what those goals are but also meets frequently with partners as the relationship evolves via quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to evaluate the partnership performance. The team may work with the partner on launching new technologies that IT may pilot or in framing joint go-to-market efforts.

Another key element of the Strategic Partnership process is evaluating the ensuring that both partners are getting value out of the relationship. Most organizations don’t operate in a vacuum and need a reciprocal partnership in order to be successful in the long run. In other words, IT and the partner need to make sure the relationship is balanced in terms of their financial and strategic business objectives, as well as, any joint go-to-market opportunities.

Overall, the Strategic Partnership process lays the groundwork and defines the expectations for one of the most important IT collaborative relationships.

In our next blog in this series, Rich Eckler, Sr. Manager, IT Partner Management for EMC IT, will talk about Partner Selection and Negotiation.

About the Author: Brian Roy