7 ways to get the most from your vendors

Strategies have changed dramatically in the past few years, with new approaches like consolidating your vendor lineup and choosing smaller vendor partners.

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Vendor management once meant squeezing service providers for the lowest costs. That approach won't fly today.

These days, IT departments get more of their services from outside sources than they did in the past, so they need vendors that can keep up with their increasingly complex needs and innovation and integration requirements.

Key vendors can't be out of step, even if they come at bargain-basement prices. To get the most value from their vendors, leading CIOs employ a combination of policies to forge stronger partnerships with vendors while spurring them to be more responsive and innovative -- all while keeping tabs on the returns that they get from their tech investments.

Here are seven emerging strategies that help IT get the most from vendors.

1. Hold on-site vendor events

Leading companies don't want vendors to fade into the background after they sign their contracts. So they hold on-site events where their managers and employees can mix and share ideas with their vendor counterparts.

"They want the vendor to have a better understanding of the business, but it's also for vendors to take that information back to their own workers so they can develop ideas that are much more tailored and targeted and relevant to the business's needs," says Gartner analyst Christopher Ambrose.

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