In business today, we typically outsource or partner with vendors on specific company projects. This is a great thing to do as not all skills need to be within the company. Partnering with the right provider can add new insights and ideas that will also develop your team.
When you do begin a new partnership with an outsourced vendor, it is important to establish your partnership principles. In any new relationship, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a project, and before you do, work together to determine what this success will look like in your working relationship. Business partnerships are like a marriage – not all days are perfect yet you know you are in this for the long haul.
Here is a list of partnership principles that a client and I established together. This stood us well through a lengthy and challenging project.
- Spend time together
- Choose committed involvement from the beginning rather than dividing your lists and working independently. Take the time to get to know each other by spending face-to-face time together discussing the project and learning what’s important to each of you. This can be done while you begin to scope the project.
- Be part of the process
- Take an active interest in all the steps along the way. This is important for both organizations and will keep you informed in the nuances of the project. The impact of one seemingly insignificant area can ripple into another and create havoc in the project. This doesn’t mean you need to know all the details of all areas, however, keep informed so you are not blindsided at a later date.
- Mid-point after action review
- Take the time to stop and review your process. Identify what’s working, or not working for each organization and make the necessary changes. Honest, and direct communication are most effective in long term relationships, and that is what you both want. Set aside your ego and share the challenges, successes and results to date, to ensure continued progress in the project.
- Don’t let issues fester
- Issues can seem like a pebble in your shoe, a nuisance that just won’t go away. Don’t wait for your mid-point review, take time to share your concerns as they arise. This will build the relationship and deepen your trust with each other.
- Be diligent about the follow up and the metrics
- Though partnerships can start out well, the honeymoon WILL end and without some way to measure success, your partner will wonder “did this really make a difference”. Sadly, this happens all too often particularly in the Learning and Development world. We need to know the results and if we met defined expectations. Early on define how you will know what the success measures need to be and how these will be tracked.
- Create a manageable timeline
- We can fall into the super hero mode far too easily and get caught up in the excitement of a new project. Fantasies of focus on what we can accomplish in a short amount of time can set in and leave us scrambling to meet a deadline. Be clear on the gains and losses of an implementation that is too fast or slow.
- Utilize your resources
- Make use of your talented team and leverage their expertise on the project. Involving a focused core group that will work together to complete this project, can build engagement, and commitment. Let your team in on the details. Capture their imagination to enrich the process.
- Establish working guidelines
- Identify how will you keep each other informed without overloading on text or email. Establish a communicate plan that will keep key stakeholders informed on the project and allow you to follow up on milestones and keep information flowing.
- Maintain the relationship
- Commit to each other that “we are in this for the long haul” as all relationships have bumps in the road. Know this and keep the glass half full as you progress through the project. Celebrate the wins in a mutually suitable way, and include your team. It takes a village to complete a successful project and a dedicated, loyal team will only enhance the partnership.
- Have Fun!
- It’s not just about work – enjoy the journey together as you learn and grow, and progress through the project. Take time to laugh and find the fun factor.