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It depends on your company's governance process and the terms of the contract.
At my own employer, that would earn the employee disciplinary action and the supplier could be subject to penalties under the contract including potentially contract termination and being barred from future contracts. We get mandatory training on this annually.
I would speak with the employee's manager regarding how they are not authorized representatives of the company and are giving the appearance of making contractual agreements with the vendor on behalf of your company.
I would also speak with the vendor and inform them that the employee has no authorization to act in this manner, that their agreements are not binding, and remind them of the terms of the contract.
Would it be productive to make this a training/mentoring opportunity for the team member? Work with your management to make it official and set boundaries with the vendor, team member, and management that the team member will be measured on. Establish criteria for what will get your "mentee" a favorable review at the end.
I don't know if this will work, but it has the potential to put you in control of the situation and minimize negative politics. You might talk to your boss, first, to see if this would work at your company, if you're not sure.
Friendship of your team member with the consultant is enforcing his trust in the project. Be careful about developing a strategy to have an adequate interaction between these stakeholders. Maybe a private meeting with the consultant is necessary to explain the privacy of information between you, him and your superior managers. For others aspects of the project, you maybe have no problem to include your team member in the conversations, gaining confidence of the external stakeholder.
What are the disadvantages of consultants contacting team members directly?
Do you communicate this to consultants and team members?
If there are no specific inconveniences, it would be very efficient for the consultant to contact the team members directly.
You only need to intervene when the discussion is about to go wrong, so you can focus your resources on other important requirements.
I am in line with @Keith comments above. No matter that, you can not stop they will talk "off the record" then you have to think about a strategy on that matter.
Thanks for your response Sergio!
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