Even if you think you know all about managing supplier/vendor relationships in your organisations, have a look at this site that has been referenced a few times places like Confused of Calcutta, Media influencer and weThink.
Strange how the same kinds of words can mean all kinds of things to different people. Before I saw these links, Vendor Relationship Management didn’t sound like anything earth shatteringly new – after all SRM is just another SAP module.
But The VRM project I’m linking to here is a different entity entirely. It’s spearheaded by Doc Searls of Cluetrain (*) fame. From the weThink link I’ve mentioned above:
While more of mind-shift than actual code, Doc Searls believes in the next few years, consumers will disclose their intentions to marketers through something akin to a personal rfp.
In this view, VRM is the opposite of CRM from an individual consumer’s standpoint. The concept is intriguing, but it looks like the project/movement is made up purely of marketers and internet mavens. And looks like the people involved in the project are trying to reinvent from scratch something that corporations have been struggling with for years. There don’t seem to be any people with real experience of being professional vendor managers. If anything the opposite is the case. Two of the comments that came back:
“Doc’s VRM sounds way hard. I don’t want to manage my relationship with Target or write a RFP for a blender. I don’t have an acquisition dept.”
Terms like “VRM” or “personal rfps” evoke some of the biggest jokes of cubicle-laden America
Ouch. My view: This VRM project would benefit greatly from some involvement from real procurement practitioners to join in the debate and hopefully help Doc’s vision become a reality. Without evoking any cubicle-oriented jokes. I can’t see the vision becoming reality anytime soon without that kind of involvement.
(*) Cluetrain is a classic, very entertaining and absorbing book about the positive power of the internet. Well worth a read for those interested in what the internet could do – even if it was written nearly a decade ago. I would counterbalance it with The Social Life Of Information which for me is a more serious/considered/balanced view of everyone becoming connected to everyone else.