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Project Managers and Vendors: Creating a Successful Partnership – Part II (#2 in the series Project Managers and Vendors: Creating a Successful Partnership)
By Linda Miller of Traveling Coaches, Inc.

Project management offices (PMOs) and project managers (PMs) are a necessity in today’s law firms, to ensure that IT projects stay on track. Anyone acting as a PM on a project requiring multiple outside vendors knows that if not managed properly, chaos can reign. Working with your own staff on a project can usually be orchestrated with ease, but throw in a vendor or two (or more) and the project can quickly get out of hand. Creating a successful partnership between vendors and your own project team is a necessity to ensure project success.

Consultation

Firms may employ a vendor as a consultant to review their project plans. If a firm is comfortable with the technology and feels that the IT department can accomplish the project in-house, the firm may employ a consultant just to confirm that the team has not missed anything. The vendor may consult with the project team and make recommendations to tighten the plan or to confirm that they are on target. This not only ensures that nothing has been overlooked in the project plan, it also boosts the firm’s confidence that the plan is valid.

A Win/Win Mentality

If your vendor has a good working partnership with the manufacturer of a product they are using or implementing in your project, you may want to let the vendor act as liaison between that manufacturer and your firm. In this case, the vendor may be better positioned than your internal staff to successfully escalate issues and get answers.

The vendor’s goal is to make the IT department’s project successful with a solid and proven technological rollout. If the project is successful, then the stakeholders, IT department and the vendor all benefit.

Regardless of the size of the PMO staff, all firms reach out to vendors at one time or another to augment their knowledge or their resource pool.

This article was first published in ILTA’s July, 2007 white paper titled “Project Management — Broadening Your Scope” and is reprinted here with permission. For more information about ILTA, visit their website at http://www.iltanet.org.

Linda Miller is co-owner and principal of Traveling Coaches, Inc., leading the company’s team of project managers, application specialists and document management engineers. Linda has extensive experience leading projects with law firms and consulting law firms on project management. Since 1995, Linda has served as the company’s technology partner managing all technical and project management operations. Linda is a dynamic presenter and implementer of project management, adult learning theories (training techniques) and IT management level courses. Linda holds many technical certifications in the legal industry enhancing her valuable experience as a consultant. Linda can be reached at lmiller@travelingcoaches.com.

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