SA sets up vendor cooperation council

South Australian government officials have initiated a vendor cooperation council and plan to introduce vendor scorecards as the state toughens its stance on newly-appointed suppliers. The moves come as the state transitions from its AU$565 million nine-year deal with EDS.

South Australian government officials have initiated a vendor cooperation council and plan to introduce vendor scorecards as the state toughens its stance on newly-appointed suppliers.

The moves come as the state transitions from its AU$565 million nine-year deal with EDS. South Australia recently announced new outsourcing ties with Dimension Data, with more partners expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Mike Grillo, executive director, government ICT services and chief technology officer, South Australia government, said the council, which held its first meeting in recent weeks, would ensure new suppliers listened and delivered on government needs.

"We had to bring the vendors in. We, as a customer, were responsible for saying what we expected from the vendor. That [first council] meeting, thus far, on the surface, has been pretty positive. Hopefully it continues that way," he told a Gartner conference in Sydney on Wednesday.

However, Grillo highlighted the vendor attitudes displayed at the meeting that showed the government needed more control of its deals.

"One vendor came in and pumped his chair up to [having his] knees with the desk height," he said.

"This seriously happened, I'm not making it up, I was just stunned."

The council was a concerted attempt to have the government's specific needs recognised, according to Grillo.

"As a customer, you've just got to show leadership and attempt to be clear about what you want.

"We said 'this is about you coming here and seeing us as a common customer, out here as a state, as the agencies. And you are competitors in the marketplace and we can't take that away from you, but you're here now today in this church, it's us. Focus on us please. Us, the customer."

The council and vendor scorecards would learn from the lessons of the government's EDS contract, which had been rewritten "countless" times during its operation, according to Grillo.

"We had to change the EDS contract countless times, this is essentially four to five years in," he said.

"Things were changing, and things just didn't hold. And the problem we found was the vendor was going 'please, change it'."

The vendor scorecard then would ensure suppliers were held accountable throughout the lifetime of a contract.

"We want to measure integration and collaboration. The contracts with the vendors actually have clauses on collaboration," Grillo said.

"Also we've got to say to the vendors 'when the contract comes up for renewal in three years time or five years time, we're going to be measuring forms of integration and collaboration'.

"Rather than just have this general aggregate about the provision of services, some atmospherics, what we're going to say is we want to measure, from day one, are you a good integration partner? Because that's what we value."

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