NET+ BPLAC Working Group Presents R&E Community Framework for IT Vendor Management at EDUCAUSE

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From left to right: Carrie Shumaker, Bobby Clark, Emma Levett, and Emily Perry

During the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference (Oct. 9-12 in Chicago), members of the NET+ Business, Procurement, and Legal Advisory Committee (BPLAC) presented A Community Framework for Vendor Management.

During the last 10 months, BPLAC sponsored an IT Vendor Management Working Group to explore what vendor management means to the R&E community. The working group members, representing 11 private and public institutions, consulting with the community, developed a Community Framework for IT Vendor Management. The framework is an important resource for the research and education (R&E) cloud community.

Developing the Framework

Phan Truong

The institutions’ work together on the framework demonstrates how the NET+ program facilitates the collective sharing of knowledge and best practices to create resources beneficial for the entire community.

“The collaborative problem solving, knowledge sharing, and peer support was invaluable,” said working group member Phan Truong, IT senior buyer, at the University of Maryland Global Campus. “Working collaboratively and sharing our knowledge [created] a type of peer support. Knowing that others out there are facing the same challenges was helpful as was feeling like we could potentially help our community avoid some of these pain points.”

Dan Lewis

Fellow working group member Dan Lewis, director of digital accessibility at Clemson University, echoed these sentiments. “Participating in the Vendor Management Working Group was a valuable experience,” Lewis said. “Although my role is not specific to procurement, learning how different institutions manage vendors and third-party software was enlightening.”

“There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for vendor management,” he continued. “However, many institutions have foundational components in place that, with collaboration and communication, can support a vendor management strategy that benefits buyers, users, and the community.”

Defining IT Vendor Management in R&E

While there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for vendor management, it’s helpful to have a working definition for this function. To guide its work, The BPLAC Vendor Management Working Group defined IT Vendor Management as “a coordinated set of activities that an institution uses to form and manage its relationships with vendors and their products.”

Based on this definition, the team focused on three areas that perform activities related to vendor management: Operational IT, Procurement Management, and IT Strategy. They then documented the activities performed in these areas and identified those that often span multiple areas.

They also took note of the work phases necessary for successfully managing vendors:

  • Foundational – the baseline internal framework needed to support vendor relationships
  • Executional – the day-to-day activities that occur when working with the IT vendor
  • Relationship Lifecycle – forward-thinking activities that consider future changes

Recognizing the high variability in size and complexity of institutions, as well as their level of maturity with vendor management, the framework provides information and ideas without prescribing a solution. Any institution can review the framework and use it as a reference point for selecting activities to implement and strengthen its capability to manage IT vendors.

Want to Learn More?

Visit the wiki page for the Community Framework for IT Vendor Management.

Want to Engage?

Participate in the University IT Vendor Management Stakeholder Pulse Survey, designed to explore the degree to which universities, vendors, and other stakeholders involved in research and education computing, software, and data can accomplish more together than they can separately.

For more information about NET+, BPLAC, and the framework, contact us at netplus@internet2.edu.

About Internet2 NET+ and BPLAC

Internet2 is a non-profit, member-driven advanced technology community providing a secure high-speed national network, eduroam global Wi-Fi access service, cloud solutions, research support, and services and training tailored for research and education. Our community includes higher education, research institutions, government entities, corporations, and cultural organizations. Through NET+, Internet2 offers cloud services, contracts, and communities made for research and education.

BPLAC convenes leaders in the higher education legal and procurement community to provide feedback and advice to the NET+ program on key program decisions that may impact procurement.