Case Study

Transforming Vendor Relationships in Educational Software Development

Are your vendors working for you? 

Executive Summary

In the fast-paced K-12 educational software industry, our client faced significant challenges with their primary application development vendor. Struggling with communication breakdowns, unmet development requirements, and costly delays, they turned to us for an unbiased evaluation and strategic overhaul. Our comprehensive analysis and targeted recommendations led to a successful vendor transition, resulting in a 22% annual savings and marked improvements in development quality and delivery speed.


When expansion outpaced their vendor's capabilities, a leader in K-12 educational software sought our expertise to critically assess and realign their vendor relationships. The goal was clear: enhance application delivery without compromising on quality or timeline.

The Challenges

Our client's journey with their primary vendor, responsible for 70% of their application development, revealed deep-rooted issues: 

 Communication Breakdown: Dialogues were often strained, leading to misalignments in expectations and deliverables. 

Unmet Development Requirements: The vendor's output failed to align with business needs, marred by bugs and defects, causing delivery delays. 

Resource Mismanagement: Despite an increased team size, the vendor's productivity stagnated, necessitating costly engagements with additional vendors to bridge gaps. 

The Analysis

With the challenges identified, we turned our focus to analysis of our client's existing environment. During the engagement, we partnered with leadership, internal teams, and vendor teams to analyze and define areas for improvement. To ensure a comprehensive analysis, our methodical approach involved: 

Direct Engagement: By embedding ourselves in meetings and communications, we dissected the impact of vendor-client interactions on project outcomes. 

Documentation Review: We scrutinized project materials to identify misalignments with Agile practices and documentation gaps. 

Cost Evaluation: A detailed comparison of vendor costs against industry standards revealed inefficiencies and overspending. 

Resource Alignment: Our analysis pinpointed opportunities for internal resource optimization to supplant vendor dependencies. 

The Observations

Key findings included: 

Ineffective Communication: Critical gaps in vendor-client dialogues led to recurrent misunderstandings. 

Lack of Accountability: Despite team expansions, the vendor failed to demonstrate clear task alignment or responsibility. 

Project Management Shortfalls: The vendor's poor utilization of management software thwarted effective issue tracking and transparency. 

The Recommendations 

As a result of our evaluation, we made the following recommendations to our client leadership: 

Vendor Transition: Switching to a new vendor aligned with our client's operational ethos and objectives promised a fresh start, poised to eliminate redundancies and foster productivity. 

Enhanced SDLC Documentation: Implementing comprehensive documentation practices would bridge communication gaps and bolster project clarity. 

Workflow Overhaul: Reengineering project management workflows to mirror the client's SDLC would simplify requirement tracking and enhance team coordination. 

Internalizing Key Roles: Transferring critical functions in-house would not only cut costs but also centralize control over the development lifecycle, ensuring product success. 

The Outcomes 

Acting on our recommendations, our client engaged with a new vendor, achieving: 

Aligned Vendor Partnership: The new vendor's commitment to quality, responsiveness, and inclusivity revitalized the application development process. 

Cost Efficiency: Internalizing six full-time roles previously outsourced led to approximately 22% in annual savings. 

Enhanced Control and Transparency: Redefined project management processes improved task visibility, reducing bugs and defects significantly. 


This strategic vendor realignment empowered our client to regain control over their application development, ensuring that their expansion did not come at the expense of quality or efficiency. The transformation underscores the importance of aligning vendor capabilities with client objectives to drive successful outcomes. 

Facing similar challenges with your vendors?