In the third article of a series exploring IT partnerships, Jarosław Granat, head of client engagement at Future Processing, discusses the need to consider a co-creation strategy
A partnership is a value added relationship that develops over time based on a foundation of trust and requires an equal endeavour from both parties. The collective ‘we’ can play a vital role in order to bolster a partnership and overcome challenges. Partners that stand by each other to celebrate success, learn from mistakes and plan the strategy, can drive better results. On the other hand, partners that do not share equal participation and try to establish superiority over other businesses, can lead the partnership to a ‘master-slave’ relationship. This not only can have an adverse effect on project outcomes, but also on the overall success of the partnership.
In the post-pandemic era where companies are keen to make the most of advanced digital technologies, the importance of strategic IT partnerships will only increase. IT leaders must understand that in this rapidly transforming digital world, it is indispensable to embrace mastery of each other. The digital needs of several businesses today require expertise from AI and machine learning to cloud and data analytics — IT businesses that partner with others to fulfil this growing digital need of clients, can achieve exponential growth. To be able to do this, it is vital for businesses to understand how to nurture a healthy partnership.
Related: Find part one of the series on how to maximise value from IT vendor collaborations here, and part two providing top tips for entering an IT partnership for the first time here.
Breaking the command-and-control model
The domination of a partner can result in catastrophic outcomes. It is imperative to ensure that both partners are on the same page and respect each others’ values, goals and expertise. Partners should avoid a chain of command and be ready to work together collaboratively on all projects. Although IT partners may have a distinct expertise, it must not be forgotten that they possess a shared responsibility and involvement in the business.
By avoiding a solution-selling approach for personal business gains, IT leaders can bring a problem-solving approach that is capable of driving exponential growth in client satisfaction as well as strengthening the core of IT partnerships. One of the best ways to break the command-and-control model is by integrating collaborative and hands-on approaches throughout the business hierarchy, starting from junior level to the higher management team. When the entire business culture moves from ‘do it’ to ‘can we do it?’ — this is when a business partnership can become capable of eliminating this command-and-control model.
Building an inclusive culture
Indulging into an IT partnership is similar to adopting a new business paradigm. Whilst IT leaders are keen for innovation it must be recognised that nurturing inclusivity can provide rapid growth in innovation. In order to bolster inclusivity, businesses can include employees from the partner teams within project discussions and implement strategies that involve beneficial engagement from both sides. Doing this not only can establish a positive inclusive culture, but also generate a variety of opinions that can lead to better decision-making.
An imperative factor to note is that the process of building an inclusive culture is not a one-time thing; rather it is an ongoing practice that needs to be embedded within the workplace culture. Open and transparent communication with a human-to-human approach can enable IT partners to understand each other’s perspectives on any project and allow them to put their thoughts before others. This exchange of thoughts, opinions and suggestions can promote inclusivity in the workplace that can further strengthen the IT partnership.
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Setting appropriate goals
By breaking the command-and-control model and building an inclusive culture IT, partners can work towards eliminating ‘master-slave’ relationships. However, it is necessary to set realistic and appropriate business goals that serve the mutual interests rather than inclined in the favour of only one of them. The ultimate goal should be to educate the client, and transform their operations through a co-creation strategy.
The business goal should not be based on selling solutions to the client based on financial gains, but instead should build upon the client-needs. The financial gains can ultimately be achieved through providing clients with the required solution. However, by establishing these appropriate goals both IT partners can mutually benefit from these objectives. In other words, it is significant for both parties to have the same objectives in place that serve an equal benefit — this not only can promote team-working, but also transparency throughout the business partnership. Ultimately, creating goals that benefit both parties and business as a whole is the foundation of any successful partnership.