Vendor Manager Job Description

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A vendor manager is a key player when it comes to an IT department's interactions with its suppliers of hardware, software, and services. The vendor manager is the person that provides product and service purchasing guidance for the department. Although not necessarily limited to these items, responsibilities include evaluating a potential provider's reputation, resources and expertise as well as helping with negotiations and contracts. Companies with large IT departments may have sufficient work that a vendor management office, and not just one person, is needed.

Vendor Manager Skills

The main benefits of centralized vendor management is the broad view of agreements with suppliers an IT group gains allowing it to obtain better terms and prices. This complete picture of vendor-related activity provide significant leverage when it comes to negotiating terms because the centralize office acts on behalf of the entire. And there are efficiencies gained when there are dedicated and experienced people focused on the vendor management task.

On the flip-side, without a vendor manager, IT executives are likely to be in the dark about a colleagues that is also purchasing from the same vendor.

An important aspect of the vendor manager role is to ensure that IT purchases support the company's business objectives. Such buying decisions need to be done with as little bias as is humanly possible thus eliminating the emotional attachment some in the senior IT ranks commonly develop for certain brands. In addition, the vendor manager is aware of company policy for how to deal with suppliers, as well as with legal and contractual best practices.

A senior IT professional with at least 10 years of experience is a good starting point for new hires. Particular skills of value include a solid understanding of information technology as well as experience with software licensing, hard procurement, and outsourcing (including offshore) agreements. Given the often geographic divides that exist between groups, a vendor manager should also be able to manager virtually teams.

How to Find a Vendor Manager

Often the best candidates are already working within the organization. Good candidates have already demonstrated proficiency with the necessary skills, have a successful track record, have the right attitude, and are known for effective communication skills. That isn't to say that headhunters are of no help here; quite the contrary. A well-connected headhunter can look for referrals from his network. The more choice available, the better the choice is likely to be. If taking the hire-from-within route, CIOs are advised to persuade a top manager that the role of vendor manager is a good career step that will lead to bigger and better things.

Regardless of where the candidate came from, key skills include being a very good listener, demonstrating a preference for highly analytical approaches to problem solving, and the ability to be personable and tenacious as the situations requires.

Although an interview should cover many bases, a particularly good question is one that asks candidates to describe how they would choose a vendor from a shortlist of three that all have similar capabilities. The idea behind such a question is to get some insight into just how process-oriented the candidate is as well as how likely the candidate is to, incorrectly, make a decision based on something other than fact.

Salary Range – $150,000 to $300,000

As a vendor manager you're going to be responsible for negotiating the best price for third party services and vendors. Negotiating your salary is an ideal opportunity to show off your abilities. Negotiate in a manner that is reflective of the vendor manager role and you're sure to not only come out on top, but you'll also impress your soon to be employer.

CIO Magazine

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