Comply and Lie

Comply and Lie

Compliance is the action of complying with a wish, command, or rule. In IT relationships between a client and vendor, there are many Big Little Lies. One cause is the start: how parties engaged in the initial contracting phase. 

In a tender, bidding parties must comply with a huge number demands in the request for proposal (RFP). Part of the RFP is a detailed statement of work (SOW) in which the client defines activities, deliverables, timelines, and KPIs for the vendor providing the services to the client. 

There are many knock-out criteria –standards, deadlines, SLA targets – that result in disqualification if not met. The result is comply or die.’ To stay in the race and win the deal, vendors will comply while keeping their fingers crossed. The outcome is a winner and a contract based on the lowest prices and pernicious penalty clauses. To make the deal profitable, the vendor must pull off a Houdini Act’ that is bound to set the relationship on a path to trouble. 

So how do you avoid the Big Little Lies poisoning your relationship with your vendor (because they will)? This guide explores three ideas: 

  1. Asking vendors to challenge your RFP (content and context) based on addressing the service you are requesting and the outcome you want. Asking for a request for dialogue. 
  2. Brainstorming on cover your ass’ behavior that will protect you against blame, performance issues, and possible legal problems. Don’t beat around the bush – give a prize to the best cover your ass story (CYA Awards). 
  3. Addressing deadlines, KPIs, and penalties that have been agreed upon contractually but which are not realistic, and which will prove counterproductive to the relationship. Be open to changing them.