With over 25 plus years in the purchasing profession we have seen Vendor Contracts take on many forms. In the early days some were pretty scary and we would be challenged to even call them a contract. They were more like a glorified hand written fax! Our profession has evolved and writing a vendor contract can mean a one pager or it can be a 300 plus page vendor agreement. Here is to hoping you get more 1 page ones.
With the litigious environment companies are faced with today, it doesn’t matter whom you’re doing business with, it is prudent to draw up a vendor contract to clarify the duties or scope of work which will be carried out by each party involved. Spend the extra effort and make it clear.
How do you make it clear? Have a second party proof read it for you to make sure it flows and makes sense to a first time reader. To ensure there are no misunderstandings, include an example showing any cost breakdowns and final results. This works great if you are purchasing a commodity where the price is based on several pricing mechanism. An example, market cost or base price of item + bridging or freight + packaging + taxes = $Price Paid by Company for next three months. In this instance, there can be no misunderstandings by any party which will examine the agreement at any future date.
The main elements of a vendor contract are the cost, services and products to be provided, what will happen if something doesn’t go as planned (contingencies), and the applicable dates for final delivery. The objective is to be thorough, eliminate unknowns, liabilities and ensure every scenario is covered in your contract. You do not want to get burned nor do you want a vendor to suffer punitively in the process. A company which is fair to its vendors gets a solid reputation and everyone wants to deal with owners which treat suppliers fairly. If you properly solicit quotations for your requirements this process will ensure you never pay more than what the present market allows.
Okay, so a main point in developing a quality vendor contract is to spend a bulk of your efforts on the scope or explaining the responsibilities of the vendor to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Include examples, proof read document. What else or what other areas need to be addressed? Here are a few:
Identify the two parties that are associated with the contract. The “Vendor” aka “Supplier”