Your office is empty due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. You may have no idea when your workers will return to the office. In some cases, what your business will look like when they return may be completely different. At the same time, you may have a substantial number of vendors with whom you already have contracts, waiting to deliver their products and services to your business. As you’re creating your paperless contract approval system and COVID-19 action plan, make time to consider your vendors. Do you have an action plan in place to handle them?
Step One: Determine What You Need from Your Vendor Contracts During COVID-19
You may have vastly different needs from your vendors as your business navigates the current public health crisis. Also, your needs may change again once the economy starts to reopen and your business starts to resume normal services. Sit down (virtually!) with your team and discuss your continuing needs. Consider:
What are your actual vendor needs now, in the current situation?
You may have some increased needs due to changing circumstances. For example, if you use an outsourced IT provider, you may need to increase your current services due to increased remote workers, who may need more assistance navigating the technologies they use each day. You may also note an increased need for cybersecurity, or you may find that you need to improve your contract management solutions to make those contracts more easily accessible for your remote workers.
Other needs may have decreased. You might not, for example, need your cleaning team to come in as often when there is no one actually in the office. You might also need fewer products or services, depending on what your customers’ needs look like during this time.
What will your vendor needs look like as the situation resolves?
Don’t just consider your immediate, short-term needs! You should also consider what you will need as you return to the normal flow of work. Many businesses anticipate a significant uptick in business as things start to reopen, especially those in the entertainment industry. If you have supplies delivered regularly, you may want to go ahead and accept those regular deliveries to help you plan ahead for after the crisis resolves.
Work with teams across your business to allow you to assess your needs both during and after the crisis fully. You may be able to shift some of your services to allow you to fully utilize your existing vendor contracts during COVID-19 with few alterations. However, you may need to increase some services for the duration of the crisis. Also, you want to be sure that you have an adequate assessment of what your business really needs.
Step Two: Contact Your Vendors About Your Vendor Contracts During COVID-19
Once you have a solid understanding of what your business needs to weather the crisis, get in touch with your vendors. You know what you need, but that does not necessarily mean that you know what your vendors are offering. Ask:
How Your Vendors Are Handling COVID-19
Your vendors may have to shut down completely, or they may have changed offerings due to the impact of coronavirus on their business. They might have the capacity to deliver the higher level of service you need due to remote work, or they might not be able to deliver the items you need.
What Changes Your Vendors Are Making to Their Routines
Not only do you want to know how your vendors are handling COVID-19 — including whether they’re staying open or have also made the shift to remote work — you may also need to know what changes they’re making to their routines to accommodate the pandemic and keep both their employees and their customers, in many cases including your end users, as safe as possible. Consider:
- How delivery options may have changed.
- What precautions the vendor is taking regarding in-person services.
- How the vendor is keeping their facility clean and as germ-free as possible.
- What the vendor will do if someone working in the facility shows signs of illness or becomes infected.
Create an agreement with your vendor based on the current circumstances. Take a look at your current contracts and alter them as needed. In some cases, you and the vendor may be able to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. For example, if your vendor has ceased production on an item you do not currently need as a response to the crisis, you may simply extend the terms of your contract or set yourself up for a later delivery.
If your vendor is not able to offer services during the pandemic, you may need to suspend your services. In some cases, you may need to choose another provider to help you continue to do business. Make sure you sign changes to those contracts and make them part of your contract repository.
Managing your vendor contracts during COVID-19 and when the office is empty can pose a unique challenge. Many people were completely unprepared for the potential ramifications of a situation like the coronavirus pandemic, leaving them struggling to catch up with the flow of business as they make the shift to remote work or deal with limitations associated with those circumstances. By preparing an action plan to deal with your vendor contracts, however, you can help ensure that your business has what it needs, both now and when the crisis comes to an end. Try ContraxAware today to keep track of your vendor contracts and any changing terms.