Vendor contracts: Where do you even start?

Have you ever looked at a project that seems impossible, and put it off because you just don’t know where to begin? Many times, the first step is the most difficult, but once you start, the process gets easier. But what if you don’t know how to start? The items noted below are designed to help your institution get started on a path to ensure value-driven vendor results on your next vendor contract renegotiation and/or technology evaluation endeavor.

Contract inventory is key. It’s always better to have too much information identified than not enough. To begin, create a list of all your institution’s vendors, so you can start gathering pertinent contract related information: Signing date, termination date, contract term, renewal term, renewal conditions, and contract termination process.

Create business requirements. Many of our clients know which vendor solutions need to be replaced, but do not know all of the alternative products and services in the market. Sometimes they would just like a refresher on what’s new with their current vendors. Either way, discussing all of the products in your institution will help form the plan moving forward with your next contract review process. 

Make a plan. We like to use the saying “if you are failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” Each one of our clients is unique based on their strategic needs. We make sure to plan accordingly and so should you. If you are having issues with your digital channel, now is the time to address them with that vendor. How can the vendor fix the problem if they don’t know you have one?

We all have projects that sit on the shelf that you should just dive into. A contract review plan shouldn’t be one. Save that for the storage room organizing project!


Mike Martin and Tom Caruthers are Directors of Consulting and Contract Management with Eide Bailly LLP. They can be reached at 701-476-8344 or at [email protected] or 701-476-8333 or at [email protected].