Those of us in the IT services business are enjoying a booming market currently –  indeed the first quarter of 2017 marked a record level of contracts awarded – 1.4 billion Euros worth, according to ISG.

The chief factors driving this growth in demand, according to a PA consulting study, are the twin incentives of cost reduction and business transformation. Essentially it’s a no-brainer for organisations to outsource selected IT functions and yet in the same study many buyers expressed dissatisfaction with suppliers – 20-25% of companies considering their sourcing strategy to be unsatisfactory.

To get to the bottom of the reasons why such an alarmingly high percentage of supplier relationships are failing, we conducted a series of interviews with nearly 40 senior professionals who purchase IT services. We asked what they thought separated the excellent suppliers from the poorer ones .The results were illuminating and, in some ways, very surprising.

1 – They display insight
First off, it’s the suppliers that conduct considerable due diligence on the company they’re approaching who impress most at the early stages of a relationship. If they can demonstrate how their technology will specifically benefit the organisation and understand the implementation process, they are already seen as adding value. Demonstrating a specialist expertise is also highly rated – as opposed to a generalist offering.

2 – They collaborate
In our interviews, the word ‘partnership’ came up time and time again – IT leaders placed high importance on it – the ability to put the client’s business objectives first, to collaborate with other suppliers in a deal that works for both parties and offers a flexible approach. Surprisingly, cost savings were low in the pecking order when it came to how the parties work together.

3 – They’re flexible
IT managers prized the ability of suppliers to be flexible both in product development and ongoing support. They look for vendors who can customise solutions and react positively when new challenges appear as the project unfolds. A test of this for some managers was whether the supplier would suggest better ways of doing something, even if it would cost less to implement!

4 – They’re innovative
Allied to flexibility, suppliers that can move off the agreed work and innovate are highly rated – particularly when they’re bringing experience of different sectors to bear.

Triad’s eBook detailing the full findings of their interviews can be downloaded here.