Vendor Management Process
The vendor management process begins by selecting the right vendor for the right reasons. The vendor selection process can be a very complicated and emotional undertaking if you don't know how to approach it from the very start. Once a relationship has been established and a strategic partnership initiated; the vendor management office is available to help manage that relationship. The following Questions and Answers are intended to outline how to contact and utilize the Vendor Management Office for support dealing with contractors:
How do I contact the vendor management office (VMO)?
The best means for contacting the VMO is by using the following state e-mail group:
How long will it take for someone from the VMO to get back to me?
The VMO will get back on all e-mail inquiries within two (2) business days.
How is the VMO different from procurement?
The VMO does not have responsibility for the acquisition or goods, services or support as does the Procurement Office. OIT and the state agencies have internal procurement divisions or work units dedicated to supporting this internal function. The VMO is intended to serve as a support resource for OIT and state agencies to help facilitate IT purchasing.
Is the VMO involved in the vendor selection process?
The VMO is not directly involved in the vendor selection process; as far as the VMO does not serve on the vendor selection committee and does not recommend vendors. What the VMO does is provide the procurement officers with background information, when requested, on a particular firm in the form of previous contract data, prior vendor ratings and evaluation information, and industry data on a company. This information can then be used by procurement when making a final decision on a vendor. It is the goal of the VMO to be completely vendor neutral.
How can the VMO help with the IT procurement process?
The VMO has multiple resources including sample Request for Proposal (RFP) templates from OIT that can be used to begin the solicitation process. The VMO is also available to serve as a resource to support the drafting process to ensure that information contained within a solicitation is in a form that will be clear and concise for the vendor community. This eliminates any ambiguity and helps ensure that procurement will get the most accurate and complete responses from the targeted vendors. This also helps facilitate the contracting process as the vendors are advised and made aware of any circumstances unique to each particular engagement.
How can the VMO assist with the contracting process?
There are several ways the Vendor Management Office can assist in getting a signed contract from the selected vendor. The VMO has standard OIT templates for ‘Task Order’ and ‘Personal Services’ form contracts available to be shared with the state agencies. The VMO staff also have a wealth of experience drafting contracts and would be happy to help support the contracting process by sharing information on contract ‘Best Practices’ to eliminate any gaps, or ambiguous language from an agreement. Finally the Vendor Management Office team also has experience with “at the table – face to face” contract negotiations on high profile contracts. The VMO is available to offer hands on support negotiating contracts that might present unique challenges.
What are the VMO’s responsibilities after a contract has been signed?
There are several things the VMO will be charged with after a contract is completed. The first is that on contracts over $100,000 the VMO will be doing periodic performance evaluations of the vendor. These ratings will be recorded in the state’s Contract Management Systems (CMS). The data will be used for decisions on renewals of existing contracts and also for future procurement decisions. The VMO will also help facilitate other contractually obligated duties of the vendor including verifying that audits and/or inspections are performed, security and compliance reviews are performed, and vendors are meeting expected service levels as outlined in the Service Level Agreement (SLA).
What is an SLA?
An SLA is part of a contract where expectations for the arrangement are formally defined. The SLA documents a common understanding of services, priorities, responsibilities, and service guarantees. For each area of service the SLA will have the "level of service" defined. The SLA should specify the levels of availability, serviceability, performance, operation, or other attributes of the service. The "level of service" can also be specified as "expected" and "minimum," which allows customers to be informed what to expect (the minimum), while providing a measurable (average) target value that shows the level of organization performance. In many contracts Service Credits will be agreed upon in the case of non-compliance of the SLA.
We are not happy with service level delivered by a vendor or the terms and conditions defining the service expectation for an existing vendor contract. What can we do to remedy this situation?
There are two options available to the state when a vendor is under performing or just not delivering service that meets the needs of the business. The first option is to approach the vendor and have an informal discussion to clarify what the service level needs are for the business for a particular situation. Many times the vendor will willingly increase service levels to satisfy their customer. The VMO is here to help facilitate and even moderate these meetings as needed. The second option is to update the agreement with new language and provisions that contractually obligate the vendor to meet the desired performance levels necessary to run the operations.
When is the best time to modify or update a vendor contract?
Typically the best time to change the language and/or provisions written into a contractual agreement is at the end of the contract term, also known as the Termination Date. Many contracts have renewal clauses built into the contract that allows for ‘option’ years to be added at the discretion of the state. This is the ideal time to approach a vendor and advise the option year will be executed under the condition that service level language is revised to meet the required service level standards.
I am a state employee and I have a question on the vendor’s obligations under an IT contract; how do I get information on the terms of a contract?
Through an e-mail request the VMO will be happy to pull a contract from CMS, or will help locate a contract if not stored in the system. The VMO will forward the document to the requesting department; but can also help with an interpretation of the language and to explain the vendor’s responsibilities and obligations under the contract.
Why did I receive an email request from the VMO asking for information on a specific vendor or contract?
The VMO is obligated under the Colorado Revised Statutes to rate, evaluate and record vendor performance on IT contracts over $100,000. To meet this obligation the VMO has established a process by which it will contact program managers, business owners, and system owners every 6 months from the contract’s Effective Date to get an evaluation on vendor performance.
Is my group ‘required’ to respond to the vendor performance evaluation e-mail notice?
Yes. This is the only function performed by the VMO that requires mandatory compliance. This function is required to be performed under C.R.S. 24-1035-101.
My group is having a problem with system or application performance. We do not feel the system is functioning at the level defined in the contractual agreement. What are the steps necessary to remedy this situation?
The first step is to contact the VMO via the email link on the VMO website. The VMO team will reach out to the requestor and begin the process for vendor issue resolution. The first step will be for the VMO to pull the contract and complete a review of the agreement to determine the documented requirements of the vendor as listed in the contract. The VMO will then set up a meeting with the requestor to get a more complete picture of the situation; and review with the requestor the terms of the contract as applicable to situation. The next step is to contact the vendor’s representatives and discuss the circumstances of the issue or problem and try to negotiate a resolution to the problem.
Why did I receive an email advising that a contract’s term is expiring?
One of the functions performed by the VMO is a continuous monthly review of contracts that will be expiring within the next 12 calendar months. The VMO will categorize these contracts into three (3) buckets: contract expires in next 3 months, expires in next 6 months: or expires in next 12 months. The VMO will notify the contract owner that the contract will be expiring and advise if there are any option years remaining on the agreement. If no options years remain, the VMO will make this clear and let the business group know they may need to explore the solicitation process. In many instances the contract "may" require that the state to provide a “notice” of intent to the vendor - from anywhere between 2 months and 12 months of the state’s intentions for the upcoming year. The VMO will also call out these clauses to avoid the state from incurring any unneccsary and unexpected penalties. The business is under no obligation to take any action; the email is a notice and intended to support the contract renewal process across the state.