What kind of partner are you?

As discussed last week, there is a growing need for technology companies to collaborate to meet the demands of their clients. While plenty of companies have broadened their offerings, many find that through this broadening they have become jacks-of- all-trades... and of course, masters of none.

The other direction in which many companies have gone is to become more specialized. By focusing on a narrow band of offerings these companies are able to offer their clients the best possible service. But because of the limitations of being a specialist, these companies have found that the best way to offer all the services their clients need, is to partner with other companies who offer complementary services.

But not all partnering is created equal. And indeed, not all companies are created equal when it comes to partnering. There are different levels of willingness and readiness among businesses who look to transform their services by using partnering.

Reactive Partnering: A reactive partner is a company that is willing to partner with other companies, but only if approached first. Reactive companies are not looking to set up long- term partnering agreements, preferring to partner on individual projects for individual clients. A reactive company tends not to go out of the way to look for partnering opportunities, and tends not to be the one dealing directly with the client. Reactive partners also tend to have a low level of formality to their partnering agreements, which can leave them open to difficulties – which in turn makes them less likely to look to partnering opportunities in the future.

Mature Partnering: A company in a mature partnering mode has one or two long-term partners that it works with over multiple projects and clients. While the partnering relationship is usually more formal and allows for better agility than reactive partnering, there can still be problems with reacting quickly to changes in client needs. This leads to businesses with stable partners missing out on opportunities that are seized by companies which are more proactive in their partnering relationships.

Proactive Partnering: A proactive company tends to be an old hand at this partnering business and their business model depends on partnering. They have processes and protocols that are well-defined and well-used, and this gives a degree of certainty to both their partners – new and old – and to their clients. By having established agreements which have been properly developed, a proactive company can seek out new partners quickly, making the most of the clients they have and onboarding new ones easily. Both new partners and new clients find the process easy, and the proactive company has steps in place to deal with any problems which could arise.

The difference between all of these partnering styles is often simply time and experience. A company with experience in partnering is more likely to understand the benefits and go out of its way to be proactive.

The other difference is formality. Where a reactive company is more likely to be happy to settle a partnering agreement with a handshake, a proactive company will usually have formal agreements in place. This gives the partnering relationship more strength, allows clients to have more confidence in the process, and solves problems around support and updates before they arise.

While a handshake agreement might seem like the easy way to allow flexibility in the arrangement, by having a formal contract, a partnering relationship has more strength and better agility – so both partners can benefit from the growth in business.

ITagree has a particular understanding of the needs of businesses as they look to transform their way of working through partnerships. We presented on this topic at the recent Microsoft conference “Partner Connect 2016” and will be heading to the worldwide conference in Washington, DC, in July.

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