Helén Nylund

Do we need strategic partnerships between customers and vendors?

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Many customers and vendors of IT-services form alliances and seek “strategic partnership” to get the best value out of the relationship. But what is the definition of a “strategic partner” and what does it mean to you?

The following bullet points came to mind – not necessarily in priority order:

  • First choice
  • Share plans and forecasts regularly – both short term and long term
  • Active governance model – strategic, tactical and operational levels
  • Joint benchmarking of solutions, prices etc. in order to reach the best quality and profitability for both parties
  • Be each other’s trusted adviser
  • Proactivity
  • Open and honest dialogue

Do you agree?

I strongly believe that the discussion has to be ongoing, both internally and between the parties, in order to develop and strengthen the business relationship. Here are my thoughts about each of the bullet points above:

First choice: In a strategic partnership, the parties should always ensure that the other party is informed of significant business events and initiatives in advance, and give the other party the opportunity to act.

Share plans and forecast: Sharing plans and forecasts should be a natural part of the tactical and strategic forums between the two parties. This ensures the possibility of proactivity on both parts.

Governance: Once the structure is in place, the communication and co-operation generally improves significantly. It is important to try to keep the governance model alive and stick to the agreed meeting and reporting structure.

Benchmarking: This should not be about revealing confidential information. It should be about jointly and on a regular basis sharing market updates and technical innovations.

Trust: Probably the word that best describes strategic partnership.

Proactivity: To be proactive, information sharing is a prerequisite.

Openess and honesty: A tough discussion is sometimes necessary…

If we can fulfill this in a business relationship I am convinced that we, both customers and vendors, can be very successful together.

And again, do you agree?



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