Not too long ago, the project manager for one of my project sets pinged me with a quick question and at the end of our IM session she commented “This is so cool!” And it was. Because she was a client, not a member of my organization, and we were using a new tool set (Skype for Business) that allowed us to communicate and collaborate together. One super-efficient ping allowed us both to move forward with answers both organizations needed.
But even the coolest tool set would have made little difference if we had not already laid the groundwork for a great working relationship. We may not have reported to the same organization, but we truly worked together as one team. Operating under full transparency, holding each other accountable, clearly outlining goals and objectives, and fully understanding what success looked like helped us navigate the many obstacles and opportunities involved in a multi-project relationship. Effective communication and collaboration help you work through problems, develop workable solutions, and build a true partnership based on trust and respect.
As I reflect back on the past several years and many, many customers, there are far more that fit into the category of having a strong partner relationship than those in which we maintained a more formal vendor only connection. Certainly every customer in which there was more than one project that we completed together aligns well under this model. Customer projects in which the teams enjoy working together and have a deeper understanding of the business goals often discover even more beneficial ideas for the organization – because they both truly care about the outcome.
We’ve found that creating this type of relationship starts with the very first introductory meetings by providing the level of transparency we plan to continue throughout the engagement. Going on to establish the communication paths, demonstrating the ability to discuss difficult topics respectfully, and to follow through on commitments and establish accountability on both sides will generally tell us very quickly if this will be a relationship that lasts. This process has served us well in growing trusted client relationships that have lasted 10 years!
If you’d like to discuss some business process improvements or ideas with us, or perhaps get an idea of what it is like to build a partner relationship rather than just talk to an IT vendor – reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because finding ways to improve the way you do business is always cool!