To a growing extent, companies concentrate on their differentiating core competencies. Therefore they outsource specialized engineering and other services to external suppliers. Many forms of collaboration have evolved from this concept. Organizations hire external resources for short-term support; they bring in coaching or consulting experts or they outsource entire projects. Strategic partnerships ignite trust and collaboration and create mutually beneficial long-term business relationships.
Benefits of Business Partnerships
Through closer collaboration, both sides of a strategic partnership can anticipate business needs and plan more efficiently; for example, the provider is able to deliver the required skills on time as employees can be trained in coordination with the customer’s requirements. Strategic partnerships give companies a competitive edge and help them compete more effectively in the market.
Access to best practices
Best practice means finding the best way to achieve business objectives. The service provider grants the customer access to its best practices and shares its method know-how and domain expertise. Such intensive collaboration enables the provider to build on its competencies in its specific segment and makes the cooperation continually effective and efficient. Additionally, the resource bottlenecks will be avoided, too.
Transparency as a basis for successful strategic partnerships
Collaboration at this strategic level requires more transparency and a higher exchange of information than a traditional business relationship. This includes a joint commitment and mutual sense of trust at management level. Good coordination and constant maintenance is also needed in order to identify priorities, weaknesses, process issues and opportunities at an early stage. In some cases the strategic partner can entirely assume a component of the value chain and reduce the number of providers and thus complexity.
Success factor for a strategic alliance
The key factor for a successful strategic alliance is the choice of the right partner. Therefore it is crucial to compile a list of criteria before a decision is made. The service provider should offer a high degree of customer focus, be able to cover the whole implementation process and command the necessary domain expertise and technological know-how. It is also important that the partners fit from a “cultural” perspective.
Real-world example: competence build-up through external resources
A public sector company requires external human resources for a long-term project in the area of business analysis. The company must therefore rely on well-trained specialists on the side of their strategic partner. The service provider launches a dedicated induction programme for all employees who are assigned to this customer. This programme includes the core processes, business divisions, key stakeholders and the methodological approach of the customer’s company. Every specialist is also given a personal induction by the account manager. Employees, who join the team later, are appointed a “godfather” – a team member who has been on the project for a while and supports the induction (See Fig. 1).
Fig. 1: The ERNI introduction programme
Ideal match through efficient integration
This intensive programme is carried out with no additional cost to the customer. It ensures that every external employee is utilized productively from the very beginning and requires no further training. Additionally, the service provider understands the specific team culture thanks to the close cooperation with the customer. Therefore it is possible to select employees who will fit the existing teams optimally. As these employees may be used recurrently, the customer also benefits from low personnel changes.