Many higher education institutions work with third-party vendors to fulfill needed services and expand their technologies; however, choosing the wrong vendors can cause security risks that expose sensitive student and employee information. Even worse, it can also create an environment that is taxing on the designated IT team that the college or university has created and staffed. Creating a successful vendor management plan for higher education is critical for ensuring that modern security risks remain low and investing in new technologies does not result in new problems.
Although there are many different approaches to vendor management, they are all often balanced by the size of the institution and the unique needs they may have. For instance, a community college may require fewer vendors to achieve their goals while a university that has a sprawling campus may need several vendors to complete their goals. No matter what approach is needed, ensuring the best vendors are being used to support the overarching needs of the higher education institution does not have to be a strenuous or difficult process.
Common Challenges for Higher Education
In modern times, many higher education institutions are actively seeking new technology infrastructures to expand teaching methods beyond the traditional classroom. Unfortunately, many of these new technologies to create digital experiences for students and faculty results in new security risks or errors that result in a stressful or ineffective experience. Some of the common problems that affect higher education on a national scale include:
- Reduced Operating or Staffing Budgets
- Expectations to Deliver High-Level Technologies and Services
- Complications with Remote Staff and Students
- Increased Training Needs and Support Issues
As we have learned throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, online learning will likely be key to the future of higher education and it is more important than ever for institutions to not only improve their technology infrastructures to meet demand but also engage in strategic staffing to fill any gaps that may be present while obtaining instructors that can provide real-world expertise to students. But what role does vendor management have on the way universities and colleges will be able to achieve this?
Vendor Management for Higher Education
Since it is unreasonable to think that a higher education institution will not implement, maintain or continue to upgrade their technology infrastructures, working with great vendors is essential. Not only does this ensure basic technology needs are currently being met, but it also ensures that the frameworks used help facilitate future needs. Higher education institutions must carefully review their current vendors to see what services they currently take advantage of and eliminate unnecessary functions that could be redesignated. Some of the steps that should be kept in mind throughout the vendor management review process include:
- Reviewing Current Contracts
- Looking for Efficiencies or Duplicated Services
- Renegotiation of Contracts – Even Mid-Term
- Taking Advantage of Vendor Opportunities
- Assessing Available Financing Options
Working with the right vendors is among one of the most important tasks that a higher education institution can achieve to encourage efficiency, provide value and improve security. Although vendor management may seem like a small piece of the overall plan, successful and symbiotic partnerships help lay the foundation for colleges and universities to move into the future. As new vendor relationships are created, nurturing them and monitoring changing needs is critical for ensuring continued growth as technology evolves.