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Who's riding who? The CIO versus the Vendor

Peter Hind | May 1, 2008
The relationship between an enterprise and its vendors is, too often, an adversarial one. Both sides can come to regard it like riding a wild horse at a rodeo. But one Asia Pacific metals producer has developed a model to keep everyone smiling.

Building on discomfort

After this, the steering committee was re-established in order to build on what had been learned and to ensure that the process had actually moved the relationship forward. The committee then defined the principles that would govern the relationship between Zinifex and Compaq. These required that each member of the steering committee would make their needs understood, that they would each take responsibility for ensuring their own needs were met, and that the committee as a whole would take responsibility for supporting all members in meeting their needs. Dean admits that this had proved a revelation because for most participants it was the first time they had attended meetings with a true appreciation of what the other attendees wanted from it.Zinifex found that this approach, and the increase in trust which it gradually delivered, resulted in a heightened level of honesty and commitment. As a customer, the process ensured a greater clarity about what services were sought and what projects were required. It also entailed an open sharing of the IT budget and facilitated discussion of the risks involved. On the other hand, Compaq provided a new level of exposure. Their personnel declared their sales quotas, remuneration details, goals, and client plans. In addition, this dialogue also provided an opportunity for the steering committee participants to reveal personal matters. For example one member was anxious to avoid early morning meetings because they had to get children to school. Zinifex quickly realised that such insights are really important if the relationship is to blossom. The steering committee also devised a tool called the Corkscrew to aid its activities which was found to add significant value. This involved a set of key questions (see Diagram 3). These are: what was the purpose; what happened; why did it happen; what did we learn and what could we do differently. These answers were vital for learning and adjusting behaviours, especially when dealing with problem resolution. Zinifex also found that it was critical to reinforce the changed behaviours in order to ensure they are maintained and do not regress. This was done using approaches such as project celebrations, the acknowledgement of achievements, minor rewards, and the active use of the corkscrew. In addition, Zinifex used the feedback from the Relationship Value Transformation activities as input to re-implement core measurements such as the SLAs and in improved project reporting.

Repeating the process

When the relationship development process was repeated, it was felt that the needs of the steering committee members were well understood. As such, it was decided to look at the relation


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