8 Painful Vendor Mistakes IT Pros Make

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When InformationWeek surveyed 100 IT leaders about their biggest mistakes, failures around vendor choice, contract negotiations, and SLAs emerged as major sources of pain. Here, we highlight 8 mistakes IT professionals make in working with vendors -- and what you can learn from their experiences.

How much of your time is spent evaluating, testing, and working with tech vendors?

If you're like most of the CIOs and other IT leaders we speak with on a regular basis at InformationWeek, managing vendor relationships probably takes up a lot more of your time than you'd even care to admit. It's also the place where you can make your worst, most visible, career-altering mistakes.

InformationWeek polled 100 CIOs and other IT decision-makers earlier this year about the worst mistakes they've made in the past 12 months. Respondents regaled us with tales of how they've ruined their relationships with the business and their worst IT and staffing failures.

But a special kind of pain emerged among those who shared tales of vendor experiences gone wrong. Pitfalls included troublesome contract negotiations, weak service-level agreements, and vendors who overpromised and under-delivered.

Every year, InformationWeek releases the Elite 100 -- a ranking of the nation's most innovative users of business technology. As part of the process, we also conduct the annual InformationWeek Elite 100 Executive Research Survey, which offers a unique glimpse into the strategies of these 100 large, leading-edge IT organizations.

The survey, which is open only to Elite 100 applicants, polled US-based companies and higher education institutions that have $250 million or more in revenue. Subsidiaries with revenues below $250 million may apply for the Elite 100 if their parent company has qualifying revenue and their parent company did not apply. Federal, state, county, and local or municipal US agencies are also eligible to apply.

The eight mistakes we're highlighting here are drawn from responses to the InformationWeek Elite 100 Executive Research Survey and have been anonymized to protect the innocent -- or the guilty, as the case may be.

[See 9 Ways IT Can Ruin Its Relationship With the Business.]

If you're looking for more guidance on how to evaluate vendors, consulting firm Temkin releases an annual Experience Rating of Tech Vendors each November. The company surveys 800 IT decision-makers from large companies to evaluate their experiences with 62 large technology vendors.

The Temkin Experience Ratings of Tech Vendors evaluates three areas of customer experience:

You'll see each of these categories emerge as pain points in the eight experiences we're highlighting here. Once you've reviewed these eight vendor pitfalls -- and some of the ways IT professionals have resolved them -- share your own experiences with us in the comments section below.

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