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How to Successfully Manage Your Subcontractors

Working and managing subcontractors should not be any different than managing your employees. It is important to have an easy and repeatable process to ensure the delivery of the work product that’s expected is delivered. I would recommend instituting a Supplier Agreement Management (SAM) process.

I can hear you taking a deep sigh “Another Process!”, yes, another process. The main purpose of the SAM process is to address the acquisition of products, services, and product and service components that can be delivered to you and or the end client.

The SAM process encompasses the following activities:

  • Selecting suppliers

  • Establishing and maintaining agreements with suppliers

  • Executing supplier agreements

  • Accepting delivery of acquired products/services

  • Ensuring successful transition of products/services

Let’s tackle the first item on our list!

Selecting Suppliers

It is extremely important to select suppliers based on an evaluation of their ability to meet the specified requirements and established criteria.

These criteria should be established to address factors that are important to the work established in the statement of work or performance work statement. Examples of factors that could be important are:

  • Geographical location

  • Suppliers past performance on similar work

  • Available staff available to perform the work

  • Prior customer reference

Establishing and Maintaining Supplier Agreements

Supplier agreements with your selected supplier is critical. This agreement should specify the arrangement for the service work products to be monitored, analyzed and evaluated. The agreements should also specify the reviews, monitoring, evaluations and acceptance testing to be performed, if required. If you are utilizing a supplier that means they are critical to the success of the project, which means they must be monitored. Also, if the supplier will continuously or repeatedly deliver the service to the customer the content should also specify when or how often the acceptance review will be performed. Supplier agreements should address the expected end of service, early end of service, and transition of service as appropriate.

Execution of the Supplier Agreement and Delivery

Execution is as important as establishing the agreement. However, this is where the work on your part begins. This is where the continuous monitoring of the agreement and the execution of the supplier occurs. You must monitor the supplier’s progress and performance to include and not limited to, schedule, effort, cost, technical performance as defined in agreement. The most important step in this area is to monitor potential risks involving the supplier and take corrective action, as necessary, to ensure it does not severely impact your project. In my experience, conducting technical and management reviews are necessary to ensure contract performance. Technical and management reviews typically include: Evaluating the suppliers’ delivery of services against targets, reviewing activities, ensure technical commitments are being met, review critical dependencies, review work risks, review schedule and budget and reviewing supplier’s compliance.

The Transition Phase

As the contract is coming to a close, you’ll go through a transition phase. Before the contract can be transferred to the customer, appropriate preparation and evaluation should occur to ensure a smooth transition. Typical work products that are created are; description of how ongoing support obligations will be handled, transition plans, and provide and training.

If these steps are incorporated into your current corporate processes, I guarantee a successful project! If you are interested in a free transition checklist, fill out our contact form and we’ll send it over.

“SAM is about getting what you need and what you expect from suppliers who affect your service.”

CMMI for Services

-The COO

Get the most out of your suppliers.



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