Firstly, I purposely titled this “suppliers” so I can address something. Having witnessed multiple companies run selection processes to bring on suppliers, there is a distinct separation between the two approaches and we can probably split it into two; suppliers vs partners.
My belief is that if you take the ‘supplier’ approach then you are selecting someone purely based on cost, and if you look at it this way there will always be someone somewhere on the planet that will do it cheaper.
Now, if we look at it from a partner point of view, someone who can add real long-term value to your goals, and you to theirs, will add infinitely more value to you. The service will never be better than the partners you have. They need to be fully integrated into your organisation and feel a sense of ownership over the part of the service that they provide. They need to be managed by your internal staff, and as we have mentioned in previous posts, the ‘people’ part of this interaction has way more value than people first expect.
The next decision is that when selecting your suppliers, do you want to have a duplication of specialism and create some competition on the services they supply? This may push you towards a supplier relationship rather than a partnership and from the mindset of the ‘supplier’, they may start to prioritise other clients who they have a partnership relationship with.
Finally, the partners need to be aligned with your service measures with the right SLAs to ensure the right level of accountability from both the buyer and seller point of view.