31 Mar 13 steps to get the best out of your IT contract – Part 1
It’s time once again. Tax and financial years are coming to an end. Annual returns are being submitted. Budgets are being reviewed and new spends are being ear marked. Make sure that your IT contracts are not lost in the annual shuffle. Below we give you 13 ways to help make sure that those contracts are solid and executable.
1. Determine who holds the keys to the IT budget
It’s all about the money, or in this case it’s all about the person who holds the money! Find out who has the ability to release or withhold the budget tagged for IT spend. Do not harass them, instead schedule a meeting and enquire how the money is being allocated and if room is available in the current and upcoming budgets for your project. Have a case laid out as to why you need that particular budget and respect the decision. Remember that they also have a manager, executive or board to answer to. Work with them and get on their radar.
Once they know that your project exists, is credible and has support, it will make it easier for them to allocate resources your way. It’s also worth having an extremely good working and professional relationship with this person as if they can champion your company to upper management, then there would be more sway internally to getting your costs approved.
2. Put together a 6-month IT Operations plan
Before engaging IT contractors, ensure that your own house is in order first. Do you have the resources allocated? The approval? The time and commitment?
Make it easier for everyone by creating an IT operations plan that can forecast months in advance. This helps budget gatekeepers set aside money specifically for your project. Furthermore, it shows management that this is not just a reactive project, but rather a well thought out plan with start and end dates. The plan shows them that your project is not a resource black hole with no fixed date of deliverables. It will help secure backing and the budget you need to get your project off the ground. Only after you have this support should you start really digging into your IT contracts.
3. Retain an expert that specialises in IT contract law
Unless you also hold a law degree or have long standing approved experience when it comes to IT contract law, it is a good idea to lawyer up to make sure that the legal side of these contracts are up to par. If your company employs a legal team or an in-house lawyer, considering how much money and time commitment is on the table with these contracts, it is well worth having the contracts approved by them. If you do not have in-house legal resources, send it to a third party law firm to take a second look at the contract before signing.
4. Meet the vendor and determine the status of your relationship
If possible, a face-to-face meeting is ideal, as it makes it harder for vendors to dodge questions or evade conversations. It saves precious time and makes the decision process of whether to keep the relationship an easier one. There is only so much push-and-pull that you can do before relationships become strained. At this point it is a good idea to take a step back and review the relationship. The case may be that it might be time drop the vendor or supplier or completely re-negotiate agreements from the ground up.
The purpose of such a meeting should be two fold. It should be to determine whether the vendor stays in your list of suppliers and it should also define what criteria is needed to be met for you both to move forward. Remember that compromise is important and fair but too many could jeopardise your business objectives and benefit.