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What to do if you need to switch vendors at short notice?

Steps to take when your supplier is no longer a viable partner due to geopolitical circumstances.

Those around you may be pressing for immediate and miraculous solutions, but the first step is to keep calm and assess the situation quickly and thoroughly.


In making the initial assessment and taking first actions, consider the following:

Are there components or tooling belonging to your company which are on the premises of the supplier? Your company might have tooling, finished code or critical data on supplier systems. This is important because in the event that a country is sanctioned, assets can be frozen and cannot be removed from site. This could have serious implications on your software delivery.

Does the supplier have intellectual property or data belonging to your company, or which your company requires? You need to understand what the supplier may have in terms of data which your company owns, or data which your company relies on, and take appropriate action to secure any critical intellectual property or data. Initially engage with them through partnership as legal avenues will not be fast enough for your business continuity needs.

Knowledge transfer can normally take time between two IT vendors — these processes normally take a month or more but there are ways to shorten that process in an emergency. Below is an initial checklist to begin the process of doing it as quickly as possible:

Checklist:

  • Cloud Subscriptions and Tenant access, check and change passwords and Administrator access to be within your control
  • Configuration management repositories and code/release scripts, arrange for a technical review and back-ups to be made, plus admin privileges to be passed over
  • Ask the supplier for their business continuity plan and any emergency measures

Get in touch with the Leadership as soon as possible, and preferably in their native language. You might have a better chance of getting possession of your goods if you are able to speak to the right person and present a clear case of ownership. Also, seek out parent company or satellites that are outside of sanctioned area.

Are there alternative suppliers which can deliver the same product or service? And if there are, do they have capacity for additional work? Remember, that the supplier’s other customers will also be looking for alternatives, and in a limited market, the alternative capacity can get booked up quickly.

What are the critical systems that you require to maintain Business as Usual (BAU) for your customers? This will give you a feel for how to prioritise your actions. There may be huge time pressure to find a replacement, but while you might agree a way to expedite a qualification, you should not skip this in favour of a quick solution when your quality and reputation depend on it.

Are other business units affected? It is important to know if any other business units or divisions in your company are affected, not only because it will be important to coordinate and collaborate with them for a solution, but also because to understand interdependencies.

Each situation is unique and, in each case, there will be further questions to consider.

With a good initial assessment, quick actions, and a well-coordinated project plan, you were able to find and successfully qualify an alternative before you face the risk of business failure.

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