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Archive for the ‘Vendor Selection’ Category

We talk a lot about design when outsourcing work to vendors.

Graphical Design. Instructional Design. Interface Design.

But one oft-neglected area is Information Design. This is the art and science of taking a mass of information, and creatively turning into a beautiful, intuitive package that is easy to navigate and consume.

Information Design

Where would a boutique vendor specializing in information design come in handy? A few ideas:

  1. On-boarding packets
  2. Career trees
  3. Training modules and handouts
  4. Slide design
  5. Internal and field communications
  6. Launches

When people intersect with information, an intuitive and attractive “map” to navigate through from beginning to end is hugely important – but often lacking.

If you’d like to look at some talented resources for this kind of work, let us know here at Impactiviti (stevew at impactiviti dot com). We’ll make the connection.

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workshopThis year, I’ve had a growing number of requests for workshop recommendations. As 2014 approaches, I expect that to grow – we’re all making plans, right?

So, here’s a short list of workshops Impactiviti can help connect you up with. And, yes, this is just a sample – whatever kind of workshop providers you’re looking for, give Steve Woodruff a call at 973-947-7429.

(the first two listed are ones that I facilitate; the others are by various hand-selected Impactiviti partners):

  • Vendor and Project Management
  • Building Your Professional Network
  • The Digital Future in Pharma (including mobile and smart technologies)
  • Managed Markets Landscape (and ACA update)
  • Critical Thinking/Business Acumen
  • Own Your Room (Effective Facilitation)
  • Communicating and Training via On-line Video
  • Effective Presentations (Executive and Management levels)
  • Effective Business Writing
  • Growing Employee Engagement
  • Questioning Skills
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Hospital Selling
  • Sharpening Specialty Selling Skills
  • Total Office Call/How to Think like a Physician
  • Coaching the Millennial Employee
  • Deploying Your Strengths to Prevent Conflict
  • Delivering the NEW Elevator Pitch

…and many more!

ALSO – if you’re looking for great keynote speakers, I’m connected to some top-notch folks – let’s talk over your needs! Impactiviti is here to brainstorm with you, and connect you with the optimal providers.

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Don’t go all squiggly. Things can get ugly fast when you don’t apply best practices for vendor and project management (you’ve seen this happen, right?)

So – sign up for the one-day Successful Vendor Management workshop, co-sponsored by SPBT and Impactiviti. The next public session is December 12th in Florham Park, NJ – you (and your colleagues) can sign up right here!

It’ll help you understand how get from A to B without the squiggles.

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over capacityPeople sometimes ask me how I determine whether a particular vendor is a good fit for a specific client/project.

One of the factors I consider is capacity – does the vendor have the bandwidth and talent and structure to do this particular project well?

Vendors have a hard time saying “No” to clients even when they know they’re about to overload their capacity – it stems from a fear of both losing face, and losing business. But this is where high-risk-of-failure starts to enter into the equation.

I encourage vendor/partners, particularly those with whom I do a Clarity Therapy session, to target their business development efforts at their capacity sweet spot. For instance, one of my partners is a great choice for niche product launches – but would be overwhelmed by a large launch. So, it doesn’t make sense for them to target those opportunities. Some of my solo consultant partners stand a much better chance at succeeding with emerging biotechs than trying to compete on a very un-level playing field with bigger providers for the business of Top 5 Pharma companies.

Here are some capacity questions to consider:

1. How much of this work will need to be outsourced to others? Outsourcing isn’t always bad – in many cases where specific domains of expertise are needed, it’s unavoidable – but a complex and multi-faceted project may demand a supplier with a higher internal staffing level just to manage the many moving parts. On the other hand, for more limited projects, that may be unnecessary overhead.

2. Does this project require dedicated staff from the vendor (especially dedicated project management)? Some work can be juggled successfully without a more focused team, but some projects require a fixed amount of ongoing bandwidth. Find out in advance if that is the case.

3. Does this vendor have the capacity NOW for this project? Last year’s success with a similar project does not guarantee this year’s success if the vendor is already loaded up with other work.

4. Am I giving this vendor too much work? One client can overload a vendor such that their performance degrades – and, can put that vendor in a dangerous position of being too dependent on a single client for their financial health. I have seen this latter scenario play out time and again – no vendor should have a single client providing more than a third of their revenue.

5. Is this the right KIND of vendor for this project? A marketing agency may not be a great choice for a given training project, because their staffing and processes doesn’t match up to the requirements. A training agency doesn’t always have the bandwidth and expertise to develop software well. A consultant may do a fine job on a curriculum map, but may be the wrong choice for a courseware build-out. Both sides have to be realistic about where the sweet spot is – and isn’t.

What has been your experience (both good and bad) with vendor capacity?

photo credit: 96dpi via photopincc

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AvoidYou remember how, in the schoolyard, certain people were so difficult to be around that you just began to avoid them?

That still happens. In client-vendor relationships. And sometimes, it’s the client company that is poisoning the relationship.

Why do certain vendors begin to have an allergic reaction to specific clients, and start to back away?

Here are the main issues I’ve seen:

  1. Hostile Attitude“We’re the client, we have the money, and you’re our servant.” This disrespectful and arrogant posture is a formula for future failure. It ensures that only the most desperate yes-vendors do work for a client-with-attitude.
  2. Non-Communication – Vendors that don’t get clear instructions and updates during a proposal process – or, that don’t even get a notice or explanation once a bid has been awarded to someone else – often decline the next “opportunity” to be frustrated by the prospective client.
  3. Convoluted Process – This usually occurs when Procurement drives the outsourcing bus. Process moves from being a help to being an entangling and confusing hindrance.
  4. Feeling Used – When a vendor feels like they’ve gone through a time-consuming and expensive process of bidding on a project that basically goes to an incumbent (maybe with a few “borrowed” ideas from other proposals), that vendor concludes that they don’t have a fair shot at gaining the work. Hence – a hesitancy to invest time in future work where they might actually be the best choice.

Not all of these things can be changed by training professionals seeking outsource suppliers, and there isn’t always a bad motive at the core of each difficult client-vendor relationship. But these are some warning signs.

Just as clients choose vendors, vendors also choose clients.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Some outsourcing mistakes can be very costly:

BadOutsourcing

(click to biggify)

If you’ve been in the pharmaceutical training/communications/marketing/sales industry for any length of time, you’ve witnessed some expensive mistakes working with outside agencies and vendors.

But it doesn’t have to happen to your department. A one-day training course on Vendor and Project Management is just what’s needed to make sure your staff is vendor-ready.

Most client-vendor failures occur because of: 1) lack of process; 2) bad communications; 3) poorly-managed expectations. These are all fix-able issues (with the right approach). We teach that right approach.

Coming up in December is the next edition of the acclaimed 1-day Successful Vendor Management workshop, co-sponsored by SPBT and Impactiviti. Just sign your trainers up via the SPBT site, and make sure they’re equipped for a vital part of their job (and future career).

Most people learn about vendor and project management the hard way – through costly mistakes. Far better to equip your department with the tools and procedures that will ensure success!

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A few months ago, I introduced the first-ever comprehensive Vendor Map for biopharma training departments (see this blog post - if you don’t have a copy yet, let me know and I’ll forward the file to you).

ImpactivitiVendorMapFinal

I’ve talked to many of my pharmaceutical clients about their vendor landscape, and here are the major reasons why we’ve concluded that it’s really, really important to create a company-specific Vendor Map:

  1. Regular turnover in the training dept. – which means that a lot of knowledge about particular vendors (and their performance) is never captured for future reference.
  2. Lack of communication across the dept. – leading to a lack of understanding of which vendors are good (or not so good) for which projects.
  3. Unclear understanding of vendor sweet spots – good vendors (for one type of project) are often given work for something that isn’t in their strike zone, because vendors have not been properly categorized by their strengths.
  4. Rushed decisions on projects – so often an ad-hoc list of potential vendors is drawn up in light of an impending project, instead of having a well-thought-out grid prepared in advance.
  5. Confusing vendor claims about being able to do it all – ummm, no. A pro-active approach to drawing up a vendor map helps bring discernment to the process of vendor selection.

In light of this need, Impactiviti now offers a low-cost annual subscription service that includes creating (and maintaining) your Vendor Map; intelligently categorizing your suppliers; recommending new potential partners; and customizing a standardized process (including templates) for your vendor needs. Contact us (stevew at impactiviti dot com) to discuss how we can work together to improve and streamline your outsource vendor selection process.

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