The Importance of Vendor Relationships

IT Business, OwnWebNow

It’s important to work closely with the people to deliver a solution end to end. Most people only show initiative in a destructive way: posting negative feedback to Twitter, groups and anyone that will listen to their hardships.

Few people use that energy towards something positive. And they win big.

I post my cell phone at the end and at the beginning of every presentation I make. It’s so that anyone that hears me talk can count on me.

Sounds like a load of bull, doesn’t it?

Yet, it’s true. Working with vendors can help you. But how? What are some real examples of how people work on a win-win?

Sometimes it’s as simple as asking a question or asking for a favor. In the past few days I have helped a partner with some advice on selling his business, helping escalate a ticket up to my chief Exchange engineer, helping a business that was (flooded) out and couldn’t make a purchasing decision on ExchangeDefender yet needed to get back up to help coordinate volunteers and then some.

Your mileage may vary.

I completely and honestly believe that most people aren’t abusive jerks. There are some really good reasons for implementation of some really, really idiotic policies.

Unfortunately, rules are made to prohibit abuse by the few bad apples out there – and sometimes they affect the people that are just trying to do their best.

Case and point:

Our Exchange hosting comes with secure SMTP / TLS access. It also comes with ExchangeDefender that allows outbound SMTP relay to additional IP addresses. Our partner had a client that used a copier that sent out scans via email and used our SMTP server on the Exchange side. It’s something that works, but not something that we support.

Why? Well, the ISPs tend to block port 25. Every device has a different configuration and setup. Every network has a different policy and firewall configuration. We provide configuration information, making it work is something that partners do.

Recently we decommissioned a set of servers from our Exchange environment to do a service pack upgrade and implement DAG. When we did so, using the old servers for SMTP stopped – nobody naturally noticed anything else wrong since all Exchange services failed over in a cluster.

Our partner had a problem. When he asked for help, nobody on my team could assist him. It’s just not something we do.

This is one of those cases where the service is disservice: We have several ways of helping you get your mail out of your copier/scanner/fax, but we cannot offer you advice or consulting on how to implement it. It’s simply not our job.

Yes, We can tell you to use

Yes, We can tell you which server will accept traffic on port 587 and which alternate ports we offer.

Yes, We can even give you some pointers and workarounds.

Yes, We can test that it works on our end and that you’re using the right IP addresses, usernames, passwords and ports.

But if you hit the wall, configuration of appliances isn’t something that’s going to be done over the phone.

Unless you call me.

Why do I have the power of the greyskull? Mostly, because once things go wrong there is nothing above me. And this is how we arrive at how policies are made. When things go right, we’re a small part of the solution. When things go wrong, we’re entirely to blame for everything.

So my team knows their boundaries – and they know not to push them because if they mess things up, they have to answer to me. I however explain the risks to our partners and tell them the good, the bad and the ugly. Some call it honestly, but it’s just a matter of reality and experience: I’ve seen this before and if things go horribly wrong, I can still sleep at night. If my team misleads someone, it’s not just their fault – it’s my fault.


The service you pay for is the service that is delivered along the guidelines.

Relationships get you the service above and beyond what you’re paying for because you are trusted with more information. Where the “by the rulebook” stuff you pay for will get you to a point, relationships and working with your vendors can help you go further.

The more you work with people, the more you talk about what you’re working on, the more feedback you’ll get, the more favors people will do for you and the more ideas you’ll get on how to move on up.

People often ask me why I spend so much of my time blogging and contributing to the community – hope this explains it.

3 Responses to The Importance of Vendor Relationships

Comments are closed.