What are the best practices for building partnerships?

There are a lot of layers to this, but the guiding principle for me is extreme transparency with whomever those partners are, whether things are going well or not. Even if a partnership had been well supported for a period of time, it could be affected by a sudden change in direction or politics that has nothing to do with whether they were a good partner or not. It's always the CIO that has to have those tough conversations. You know you're going to end up working with these providers again and again, it's never just one and done. The best policy is to be very clear with them that while you’re happy to talk about what they could have done differently, the reality is the circumstances are outside anyone’s absolute control. It’s a change in strategy that says that this partnership in this area is where my organization wants to go.

Anonymous Author
There are a lot of layers to this, but the guiding principle for me is extreme transparency with whomever those partners are, whether things are going well or not. Even if a partnership had been well supported for a period of time, it could be affected by a sudden change in direction or politics that has nothing to do with whether they were a good partner or not. It's always the CIO that has to have those tough conversations. You know you're going to end up working with these providers again and again, it's never just one and done. The best policy is to be very clear with them that while you’re happy to talk about what they could have done differently, the reality is the circumstances are outside anyone’s absolute control. It’s a change in strategy that says that this partnership in this area is where my organization wants to go.
1 upvotes
Anonymous Author
The framework that has helped me is to try to be as candid and transparent as possible with my vendors and tell them that this is a partnership. This is what I want to accomplish. These are my business outcomes. These are my KPIs. This is what my definition of success is for the entire technology stack. And then I tell them what I want to get out of the partnership at each of these layers. I have an objective—not emotional—conversation about whether their product can actually provide those features or help me with that particular cause. Invariably, some vendors just want to keep the business, so they say, "Of course we can help." The next question that I ask them is, "Is that feature on your roadmap? Is that something you want to get to? Because if you're going to do it just for me, then it's a one-off thing and not a partnership. It is me dictating what I want and you bending over backwards." Eventually that power struggle will become toxic or problematic, or they won't invest much when they start to realize that it’s becoming costly.
1 upvotes
Anonymous Author
It's about people. Treat your colleagues, your employees, and folks that roll into you the same as vendors. We're all people. I generally try to take the shortcuts in my mind: however I want to treat internal people, that’s how I will treat external people, so that I'm consistent.
0 upvotes
Anonymous Author
My strategy has always been to be transparent, but signal early. Signaling is something that I recommend highly, both to CIOs and to others. You need to be able to say, "Look, there's a bunch of projects that we're doing that take more time, and whilst I appreciate you wanting to partner with us, it requires a lot more effort. It's not a matter of us getting bigger discounts, it just requires quite a concerted effort from a team that wants to be able to do it."
0 upvotes