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ERIC Number: EJ854032
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1528-5324
Building Relationships Means Better IT Contracts
Kossuth, Joanne; Ballman, Donald
EDUCAUSE Quarterly, v27 n4 p38-49 2004
The ancient Romans had it right. The underlying relationships between contracting parties were considered so important among Roman citizens that breaking a contract was considered a serious offense: The breaching party forfeited social position and property, and, if necessary, his family was expected to make good on his contractual promises. In more recent times, contracts have become impersonal, and more often than not the contracting parties never meet or even speak. That's particularly the case in IT and information systems contracting. Even in a sluggish economy many educational software vendors have a "take it or leave it" attitude. Too often, it's hard to get prompt assistance from the help desk; first-level support personnel are often not adequately trained and must escalate all but the most basic calls; escalation plans are not well documented and result in mismatched expectations regarding service delivery; and sales personnel only communicate at renewal time, if then. In the authors' experiences as a higher education chief information officer and a technology attorney, they have found that by increasing their focus on the relational elements of IT contracts, they get better results. Naturally, one might expect that paying closer attention to vendor relationships could result in better deals, with more institutionally personalized attention, better support after the contract is signed and the fees are paid, and greater cooperation when things do not work out to one's satisfaction. That's only part of the story, however. Two other key relationships must be developed as well: (1) internal relationships within the campus--also known as campus constituencies; and (2) external relationships with the legal counsel. Some impressive deals can result when all three relationships are working well and the team is together. In this article, the authors provide the toolkit that can help create, manage, and nurture better relationships with IT vendors. The vendor scorecards offer the flexibility to customize the institution's priorities in an easily maintained and assessed format. Advisory boards give IT management access to third-party resources, support, and validation while providing a forum for out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions. Aligning institutional personnel, actors, and roles takes a lot of work--putting together good teams, sharing information, and meeting the needs of institutional and vendor team members. The list of tips offered in this article for designing a structure to accommodate all of this will smooth the path. (Contains 4 figures and 7 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A