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Insights from the CIO Roundtable

Episode 51

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Insights from the CIO Roundtable
IT Visionaries producer Aaron Gerlitz returns to the podcast to discuss and dissect the key takeaways from the most recent CIO Roundtable.

“Vendor is a word you use with someone you don’t really trust. When you have a good relationship with someone, you’re more likely to refer to them as a partner.” —@AKGerlitz #ITVisionaries

Show Notes

In this episode of IT Visionaries, Aaron Gerlitz (Twitter, LinkedIn) returns to discuss the CIO Roundtable No. 2 Episode.

Aaron breaks down exactly what it means to be a vendor versus a partner, he details his favorite vendor story and then reveals how the voice of the customer is one of the most important feedback loops for a company to zero in on.

Topics Discussed: Vendors, voice of the customer, IT, CIO.

Welcome Back Aaron — (1:00)

  • Live from Utah, Aaron joins Ian to talk about CIO Roundtable No. 2, including insights into vendors, vendor management and what that means for IT professionals.

Initial thoughts — (2:20)

  • A CIO has a different perspective than a project manager.
  • “Vendor is a dirty word,” was one of the quotes that really stood out.
  • “Vendor is a word you use with someone you don’t really trust. When you have a good relationship with someone, you’re more likely to refer to them as a partner.”

Best practices for managing relationships — (4:40)

  • There are different kinds of relationships and they need to be managed differently, especially when dealing with IT professionals.
  • The biggest mistake is not keeping a good cadence when you’re in the project phase.
    • Not having a feedback channel can lead to big problems between account managers, IT managers, and vendors.
  • There are a lot of moving parts and agendas, so how do you keep everyone on the cadence that will yield success?
    • Having continuity the whole way through is a big part of it.
    • Make sure there are handoffs and conversations to discuss the benefits and challenges of projects.

Stories, good and bad, in implementing vendor relationships — (8:15)

  • In Afghanistan, Aaron was working in a country-level network operations center helping vendors get line-of-sight communications and operations up and running. 
  • The Problem: A vendor that was providing links in the country was not providing information about outages and updates. The communication was not where it needed to be. 
  • The Solution: It took time to build and establish a new relationship and by asking basic questions, it led to the vendor being held accountable for things they weren’t in the past. By doing overall analysis and providing a report to the vendor that detailed what was happening, how the problems were fixed in the past and what solutions might be best, a mutually beneficial relationship was built.

Voice of the customer — (12:20)

  • Some background: Voice of the customer is a feedback loop.
  • You shouldn’t expect that just because you have a need that the provider will install a solution immediately. But if they hear the same problem from multiple people, they know how to prioritize.
  • Communicating those priorities and ensuring you have a stable product are important for any provider.
  • “You don’t want to be the guy that’s crying wolf all the time.”
  • There has to be governance and a point person who investigates customer requests and determines if the request will help the customer and the company.
  • The CIO of a company gets engaged when you have fundamental issues, but when you’re talking about voice of the customer enhancement, that should get run through a business partner.

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T Visionaries producer Aaron Gerlitz joins the podcast to discuss the most interesting lessons he’s learned from the first 40 episodes of IT Visionaries.

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