It doesn’t matter where we go these days in the technology and cloud industry, the buzz words around ‘becoming a partner,’ or ‘forming an alliance’ find their way into most business conversations. The extending of one’s organizational ‘arms and legs’ in the market has become a fairly standard model for growth and efficiencies. That said, there are some critical pitfalls that companies make when venturing down the partnering path.
1 – Too many cooks (or cloud providers) spoil the broth
Often a company gets excited about a new alliance/partnership. Almost immediately the partner ‘bandwagon’ is alive and well, and everyone wishes to be part of the big, shiny object. Soon, however, there are multiple cloud providers in the mix, all with a different offering and approach. This in turn leads to leadership and sales confusion, overall lack of direction and, as some call it, “cloud sprawl”. Once a cloud approach has been defined, having one provider helps prioritize the menu, enabling others to weigh in, provide input and get clear offerings out the door. Partnerships are won by having small wins with each other off the bat – and then building momentum from a clear recipe for success. Not trying to serve up the entire buffet all at once!
2 – Not enough priority given to communications and operations
At the start of a cloud partnership – meals, trips and hand-shaking provides the corporate code for the language of partnership. But where does it go from there? One meeting can turn into multiple follow up calls to determine whether certain action items have been done on the other side of the fence. This creates what I call ‘the partner churn:’ the ongoing effort to be effective and ensure that the partnership is at the top of both parties’ lists. Accounting for the time it takes to manage a strategic partnership can be a challenge, but it needs to be prioritized and integrated into the workweek. Where is joint work between both partners accounted for? What is the rhythm of regular communications that works for both parties? If there is no sense of operational rigor to the partnership, the effort will take you nowhere. We can all talk at lunches, on napkins and shake hands. Practicing the art of partnership is tougher.
3 – Keeping partnership at the exec level only
Keeping partnership only at the executive level is a big mistake! Of course there’s always a few critical key levels to a partnership – and executive sponsorship is a vital piece of the partnership pie. However, if the mandate and the executional elements of the plan are aligned properly throughout the team – there’s a better chance for success. Keeping the keys to the kingdom at the exec level will not enable collaboration and responsibility where it needs to be. If a partnership is worthy then there will be key individual roles across the organization contributing to its success.
4 – Making a partnership someone’s side job
Organizations often don’t account for the growth of a partnership as part of existing roles. It tends to become a ‘side’ job, and with that can come bottom of the list syndrome. The partnership always has its place on the list – but is it getting the attention it deserves to get off to a great start? Where possible, one needs to reprioritize objectives and focus on providing the time to invest in any partnership from the onset. If you begin with a side job mentality – you’re likely in a position to see limited success.
5 – Setting unrealistic expectations
Just like the promise of a second date, the possibilities of a cloud partnership appear endless at first glance. There are lots of different conversations that can happen at the start – and then a movement to some sort of prioritization. A key to driving a strong and long-term partnership are those initial quick wins. Quick wins allow both parties to understand how to work together and find their rhythm. A partnership can grow stale fast if there are expectations that are out of line with reality. Developing a 90-day plan that is potentially aggressive but attainable will help build and maintain momentum.
Making any one of these mistakes can disrupt the balance of partnership. Establishing clear communications and expectations from the start is key to long-term success. For more information on the Concerto Partner Network and the programs available, watch our on-demand webinar: Driving Partner Success in the Cloud.