★ The Value of Partnership

Today I want to talk about a very simple idea:

A successful implementation begins and ends with a successful partnership.

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t understand this concept.  I’ve seen customers who are more concerned about extracting everything they possibly can from a vendor that they lose sight of their goal.  They point to the vendor any time a deadline is missed or a mistake is made.

I’ve also seen software vendors and integrators who seem to care more about landing a deal and maximizing revenue that they fail to serve their customers in the best way possible.  They look for excuses when things go awry, and resort to making up answers to issues.  This does not build trust with a customer.

I recently completed a project with a healthcare organization that understood this very well.  The project wasn’t the biggest technical challenge, but it was going to noticeably affect everyone in their organization, most notably their help desk who was going to have to handle calls for the new system.  However, we didn’t see the same resistance we see when implementing visible change at other organizations.  We were even able to get buy-in from the doctors, which is often a challenge in itself in healthcare.

The customer sponsor, the implementation team, the help desk and Identropy had all formed mutual trust with one another.  Because of this, we were able to effectively communicate the benefits of the project and work together towards a successful implementation.  One member of the customer’s implementation team even told me they liked Identropy from the start because we were willing to say “I’m not sure about that, let me get back to you” to questions before even landing the deal.

We ended up going live with barely a blip on the radar.  There were a few things that had to be tweaked after feedback from end users, but nothing major.

And one other thing, the project was also completed WAY under budget.  Part of it was due to changes in the initial scope.  Most of it was due to two things:

  1. We rarely had the communication issues that can arise from looking out for #1, and
  2. With guidance, the customer was willing to take on some of the work even though they weren’t formally trained on the product.

Rather than focusing on CYA and individual interests, we focused on the project.  I attribute this to the fact that the customer saw the value of our partnership, and viewed myself and Identropy as “Trusted Advisors” rather than just another vendor.  On the flip side Identropy understood the value of the project, and rather than just billing just because we had the hours, we truly worked in the customer’s best interests.

After wrapping up that project I joined an ongoing implementation with a large telecom.  Its an aggressive project.  Within the next 24 months we are to design, build, test, and implement a best of breed collection of logical access controls, physical access controls, privileged access management, as well as automated and request-based provisioning for an organization that cannot tolerate any real measurable downtime.  Oh, and the customer is new to pretty much all of these concepts and products and is relying heavily on Identropy’s expertise.

In most situations I would call this a daunting task.  In this instance I not only think its doable, but I have every confidence we will exceed expectations and deliver on-time.  How can I be so confident?  This customer recognizes the value of partnership.  They value a work-life balance, even for their vendors.  As a services vendor, I must say this is refreshing.

I just returned from my first on-site visit.  The purpose of the visit was to get to know the team and build rapport.  Of course I had deliverables to work on, but they could have just as easily been completed at the home office.  The better we know and understand one another, the better we will communicate and work together.

Don’t get me wrong, this customer can’t afford to simply waste dollars just to have their vendors visit the office.  Nor do they think they need to watch over us. They have assured us that they fully trust our abilities to work off-site without watchful eyes.  They just understand the value of getting to know one another.

It seems like all too often we focus on short term goals rather than building lasting relationships.  It’s good to work with customers (and for a company) that understands the value of these relationships not only for the team members, but for the organizations themselves.

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