The ten signs of a deteriorating vendor relationship – part 2

3. No care or attention is paid to the billing process.

Believe it or not some vendors are so lax in this area that It can take 3 months for time to be recorded against a project that is planned to run for 6 and 4 months to receive an invoice for the work undertaken. Worse yet when you do get the invoices they are for resources that you have never heard of and don’t match the resources time has been recorded for. The final blow is that the time is all in one large block of hours (not the agreed format of days per month) recorded against a single day. This makes it even more difficult to reconcile the detail on the invoices to your timesheet system.

The quickest way to sort this out is to notify the vendor that 1) time not recorded in your timesheet system will not be paid 2) Invoices that do not match at the resource level to the hours billed each month will also not be paid. If the vendor still can’t sort out what you want them to do before they will get paid then they aren’t likely to be able to figure out what it is you want them to do on your project.

4. Resources constantly change.

If you find yourself turning up to project meetings with your vendor and find that you are faced with yet another group of resources then you have a good indication that the vendor doesn’t really want to deliver the solution you need. Everyone accepts a level of turnover on a project; it is an unavoidable fact of life. But when there is no continuity from week to week on the project let alone between phases of a project you really do need to question the vendors’ commitment. Typically you will have one team engaged to do High Level Design work, a completely different one will turn up when it is time to move to Low Level Design and another previously unknown group will appear just in time to start development.

A vendor that values your working relationship will work at ensuring you are comfortable with the approach they take. They will ensure continuity in the key roles on the project. But, if that is not possible you will know well in advance and you will be involved in the handover to the new resource taking over.

There’s not much you can do about this beyond making sure that the vendor knows your displeasure and that a continuation of poor practices will result in a breach of contract and a termination of the agreement. Unfortunately this will be one for the lawyers so the more you communicate formally and document the problems the easier it will be to prove.

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