Choosing The Right Partner

It’s who you know and what they know…

In a leadership role, how often do you find yourself dancing ‘the trust dance’ when you engage new resources? When you take on a new hire, or engage a new supplier, you can’t always be sure that there is going to be a good fit. Consider the relationships with the rest of your team, even if that team is only you, and the potential for conflicting goals and expectations.

We try to mitigate the risk of these new relationships turning sour by looking at some external evidence – maybe asking for recommendations or references, looking at past history. Often, those recommendations will give you confidence that your resource has the technical capability to fulfill your requirements. However, when it comes to examining the relationship we can’t help but let a bit of confirmation bias creep in. This is where the evidence you seek only serves to confirm your existing opinion, and that external feedback might not help you as much as you originally thought.

The key then, is to start further back whenever possible. One of our clients put it like this:

“It was critical that we’d built that relationship already… All of our preferred suppliers have to have that trusted relationship. If they don’t get our business and its mission … it’s more than just the dollars and cents of the transaction, it’s getting those values and what we’re all about. Once that comes on board then the value add comes through”

Anthony Denman, FCPA | CFO at Anglicare Tasmania

In the context of service provider engagement, you might already have that contact in your little black book, and you’ve been waiting for the right time to give them a call. If you don’t, here are some key questions we’d encourage our clients to ask:

  1. Does the potential partner understand the technical requirements of your business and industry?
  2. What is the preferred process for communication and feedback?
  3. Are they system agnostic and able to implement ? Or maybe a better question, knowing that relationships are important- What are their existing relationships with software vendors?
  4. Where is their emphasis? Implementation, system improvement, analytics etc.
  5. On the post-implementation support side, what is their approach to providing a turnkey solution? Will they train existing staff or is there a requirement to rely on ongoing support?
  6. What is their approach to project management?
  7. And a bonus question – Do you have existing partners where there is the opportunity for them to build up necessary capacity rather than you needing to directly engage those resources? This isn’t quite the same as in-house vs out-sourcing, more like finding a collaborative win-win with someone you already know well.

The point with these questions is to get to know your potential partner better. You might still find them attractive, but knowing where your priorities and strengths differ from your partners gives you a better chance of a successful relationship.

Finally, it’s never too late or too early to start the journey of building relationships. Even if you aren’t looking at implementing a new system this week, today is still a good day for you to:

  1. Pick up the phone and give someone a call
  2. Connect with service providers on networking platforms like LinkedIn
  3. Discuss what and who your peers are using to provide solutions to your challenges
  4. Engage with discussion groups and forums
  5. Engage with your current partner network
  6. Build a team around business improvement and efficiencies and get your team to do the same

You never know, the solution may be closer than you think!

What is your company struggling with? Drop us a line if you want to have a chat or stay in touch with our updates.

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