The key success factors of working with a technology vendor
How to ensure that the collaboration with your technology partner runs smoothly.
System integrators and agencies need to work with technology vendors when implementing a digital solution for their customer. But a painless collaboration between different companies is not a given. Here are several factors you should strive for when it comes to establishing lasting success in your relationship with a technology vendor.
Mutual trust is a given factor in any relationship, and the collaboration between an agency and a technology vendor is no different. When you enter into an agreement, be sure to include transparency and openness among the tenets, and exercise goodwill as you get to know one another.
In initial meetings, try to assess the chemistry between all the involved people, and establish processes for follow-ups, reviews, strategic plannings, and even more casual catch-ups. Also follow each other on social media, attend each other’s events and webinars, and take a genuine interest in what your counterpart is doing.
Speaking of trust and mutual collaboration, enabling a technical ambassador from your company is a great way to ensure progress, follow-ups, and interest generation among your colleagues.
The primary goals of the technical ambassador is to be an expert on the technical platform of the vendor, to be the go-to resource internally when questions arise, and to spread knowledge and enthusiasm about the product in all relevant departments. The ambassador will function as the prime mover and get projects running and help solve issues.
Instead of working in silos, you and the vendor should work together on bids and general industry outreach when appropriate, in order to generate more relevant and warm leads.
There are several advantages with an approach like this, but the main benefit is that you and the vendor keep reinforcing the foundation on which your collaboration is built. Generating leads and then potentially customers, revenue, and success together can strengthen your bonds and relationship substantially.
Receiving assistance on a project from the technology vendor is no shame, it is only beneficial to all parties. The vendor gets to ensure a best practice implementation of their solution, you get experience and aid from seasoned experts, and your customer gets the best possible digital experience to work with.
The vendor help will of course vary between each unique project, but common elements should include pre sale support with demos and requirement specifications, developer support through community and SLA, and developer training and certification.
While it surely is important to reach a partnership agreement and build a solid foundation for collaboration and mutual aid, a healthy and long term relationship depends ultimately on how much business is generated. And this can best be summed up as a success factor in the form of a quality reference.
Working together to obtain a quality reference, i.e. an important customer, is essential to morale and continued collaboration. Strong references and case studies for the vendor also allows them to grow even further, thus improving the platform even more. You and your vendor should therefore aim high and be ambitious in leads generation and bids processes.
Another key success factor of working with a technology vendor is the vendor’s partner framework or program. A firm partner management means that the vendor is a serious actor, has planned for most eventualities, and is a trustworthy ally in the industry.
Before you enter a partnership, you should research the technology vendor’s partner program, what benefits and requirements are to befall you, and what you can expect over the board. Solid partner management usually entails a dedicated partner manager for your company, so business critical meetings, follow-ups, and reviews are more likely to occur.
Receiving resources in the form of training and documentation for your developers is one thing, but don’t forget your sales team. A fruitful collaboration with a technology vendor also hinges on the success of your sales efforts.
A technology vendor worth their salt can of course provide documentation, presentations, pricing models, and so on to your sales personnel. By training your sales reps, they will invoke more confidence in prospects, making your company more likely to be seriously considered during bids.
How you and your chosen or prospective technology vendor collaborate is yet another factor that will possibly have large ramifications for your joint future success. While different business processes work for different companies, the Agile methodology seems to be smart, scalable, and future-proof.
Continuously improving and working with achievable project goals in shorter sprints, as opposed to a massive waterfall method can boost the work collaboration between you and the vendor. If a customer issue needs solving, an Agile approach can prove to fix it faster and better, due to its nature of continuous improvement and short sprints.
Good chemistry, a solid partner program, and initial successes are all important, but another just as important factor is the ability to procure and sustain a long term, foreseeable, and predictable revenue for your company in years to come.
This can be achieved by a strong digital platform. If you can work with it over time with different use cases and customer needs, and if it is continuously improved upon and expanded with new and reasonable functionality, you can be sure to apply and scale the basic principles behind it in the long run and recurring revenues from happy customers.
The reason for a quick start is not only to commence projects you are working on now faster, but also to ensure that potentially new developers (they come and go, like other employees) will be able to quickly get into things, instead of slowing down or halting ongoing projects for days or even weeks. And you will save money as well.
As a system integrator or agency, it is of course vital to present yourselves, your skills, your processes, and your merits to potential customers. But do not make the mistake of mentioning the technical framework as an afterthought.
If you instead make the vendor’s digital platform an integrated part of your concept in a bidding process, you come across as more credible. By showing how your concept is solved by the platform in most or every step along the way, you appear as more holistic and long term—and less fragmented and opportunistic.
The act of delivering high quality advisory services go both ways: both the vendor advising you and your customer on best practice and implementation of the platform, and you solely advising the customer. In any case, great advisory rests on thorough knowledge and experience with both the specific digital platform and with business processes and deployments in general—which is where a fruitful collaboration between you and the vendor will have generated results already.
Advisory can take many forms, from informal conversation between key stakeholders to more streamlined workshops on specific topics that need to be addressed in a particular project. Whatever form the advisory takes, make sure that communication between you and the vendor is transparent on every key issue, from integrations and operations to security and content modelling—in order to deliver the best advice and digital experiences for your customer.