Three ways to annoy your IT supplier

The relationship between an IT supplier and its customer is a complex, multilayered one. On the surface it is all upbeat media...

The relationship between an IT supplier and its customer is a complex, multilayered one. On the surface it is all upbeat media releases, optimistic forecasts about five-year cost savings and cheesy photo opportunities. But scratch beneath the facade and there is usually a fair bit of fear and loathing.

While user companies have become increasingly vocal over the shortcomings of software suppliers over the past few years - some blaming disappointing financial results partly on botched IT projects - suppliers generally have to refrain from answering back in public.

However, after a few beers, directors at the larger suppliers and consultancies will rattle off a pet-hate list of irritating user habits.

The first is when a user company asks a supplier to undertake a feasibility test into a technology or IT project, such as web services, when it has little real intention of going ahead with the project. These tests can cost tens of thousands of pounds and drain valuable staff from work they are actually being paid for.

The second irritating habit is when a customer constantly changes the scope of a project and seems to be incapable of making any decisions, making it difficult for the supplier to hit its deadlines. It is a bit like a film that ends up getting rewritten from something quite interesting into straight-to-DVD trash because numerous scriptwriters and executive producers (ie, friends of the director) start sticking their oar in.

But the ultimate way to infuriate a supplier is to suggest a risk-and-reward contract, in which both user and supplier have an equal stake in the performance of a product or IT project. If the technology succeeds beyond expectations, the supplier gets more money, but if it screws up they get less. Suppliers hate these contracts, arguing that they offer 98% risk and 2% reward. User organisations have some compromises to make, if the new breed of contracts are to work.

Read more on IT legislation and regulation

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