Tips for Vendor Negotiations


The SLA Michigan Chapter recently met to discuss effective practices for Negotiating with Vendors.  Bob Kelly, Collection Development Librarian Eastern Michigan University, Elaine Logan, Associate University Librarian EMU (formerly with Pfizer Co.), and Leslie Burke, Account Services Manager EBSCO Information Services shared the following: 

·         Standardize your process.  Use a team approach; partner with procurement and legal at your institution.  Be a leader and take control of the negotiations.  Establish a single point of contact for all vendors.

·         Vendors are people too, and lots of them are still new at this.  Establish relationships.

·         Both parties should be responsive in a timely manner.  Final negotiations will always take longer than you think; remember this when negotiating a switch in vendors.

·         All parties should be flexible on various points of bargaining, and should set limitations that are not negotiable; know your needs vs. your wants.  Don’t waste each other’s time.

·         Pricing is not the only negotiable; you may consider additional content, training, advisory seats, beta testing, length of contract, billing methods, etc.  Database subscriptions usually have more pricing room than individual journal subscriptions or packages.

·         Ask for a clear definition of how pricing is determined.

·         Ask for particulars about usage data: Is the vendor COUNTER compliant?  What about SUSHI compliant?

·         Ask how often content is updated.  Ask how current content is, if relevant.

·         It can be important to review the financials of your current or prospective vendors.

·         Define your users and access rights:  You may want to include alumni, walk-in users, or other constituents.  Do you have “Post Cancellation Access” or should you consider deep archiving from a third party, such as PORTICO.

·         Define how content can be used.  Consider: course packs, interlibrary loan, e-reserves, performance rights.

·         Define the amount of time the contract is good for before it must be renewed.  Avoid automatic renewals.

·         Construct a standard addendum for all of your contracting that includes important contract stipulations for your institution.  Check out Yale’s Bibliography of Licensing Resources.  Make clear and complete cover pages for your contracts.

·         Keep PDF (or other electronic format) copies of all your contracts for easy access and dissemination.


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