I thought the speaker at this program, Don Johnson, CPSM, CPSD, C.P.M., CPIM, was very knowledgeable and presented a nice outline of factors to consider when having to deal with vendor contracts. Librarians generally do not have much background in Purchasing, so it was good to hear someone from that field talk about this topic.
He spoke of the importance of selecting the right team members, cooperating with other departments in your organization, and building consensus throughout the process. Figure out the scope of work/product needed, don’t be afraid to keep asking why when discussing features to include, and avoid scope creep as you proceed. As you enter the evaluation stage, have your criteria worked out first and get all of your questions answered to your satisfaction. During the negotiation stage, have a designated leader and keep the team as small as possible. Do not be afraid of silence and do not talk about any of the details during restroom breaks. Keep in mind that the vendor is looking for a constant stream of revenue, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Address issues such as: what happens when there is a change in content, limitations of liability, company mergers, unauthorized use, insurance and warranty, etc. Consider adding training as part of the contract. Produce a corporate usage policy dealing with data security, etc. to show the vendor. At the conclusion, recognize your team’s success.
After acceptance of the contract, there are management issues which are necessary to perform throughout the length of the contract. Measure and track the vendor’s performance. Note any milestones - complaints, fixes, downtime, etc. Prepare for an extension or cancellation. Generally speaking, an evergreen or automatic renewal is a bad idea. Consider a complete audit of each user’s computer.
I found there were many nuggets of information to be collected during this presentation and the handouts provided by Mr. Johnson and our fabulous program coordinator, Mary Jenkins, were very useful. The location was easy to get to and had free parking (always a plus). Oh, and did I mention the snacks?
Barbara Silbersack, Past-President