Strategic Vision and Goals
First, define the desired organization, capability, and scope of the vendor partner. The vision should be created with the input of all key stakeholders (e.g., business units, finance department, legal and compliance, etc.).
Setting goals is an ideal way to offer direction, focus, and motivation. The first step in achieving them is defining them. Goals should be specific and realistic. Sometimes it helps to breakdown your goals into smaller incremental steps and prioritize them accordingly. Make sure you have the required resources and support to achieve your goals.
Participants and Brainstorming
It is critical to keep partnership projects within a smaller group so as not to disrupt the existing process if not carried out appropriately and in a timely manner. Accept input from leadership, process owners, and middle management because it can provide perspective on the overall elements of the project.
Do some brainstorming on your own. Come up with problems and ideas on solving them before presenting them to others. Preparing on your own will help facilitate discussion with teammates and offer pros and cons to each solution option. This makes for better decision-making.
Referral and Reference
Recommendations are an essential part of identifying the right partners. Ask colleagues from within and outside your organization. Referrals can help facilitate introductions to persons and firms that have a reputation for being skilled at solving problems like your own. It’s a plus to be referred to someone who already has a working relationship with the same partner you’re assessing. It provides assurance to the services and deliverables, confirms understanding of the overall problem and expected outcome, and affords the opportunity to challenge claims made by the potential vendor-partner.
Design and Documentation
It is important to document the expectations, roles and processes clearly. It prevents ambiguities as to the requirements and an affirmation of understanding minimizes the chance the project’s timeframe will be delayed. Upon sharing the expectations with the potential vendor partners, allow them to review and ask questions for clarification before they submit a proposal.
Character and Integrity
It goes without saying that one of the most important points to consider when picking the right partner includes moral character. Honesty and Integrity are fundamental values that can be recognized in face-to-face meetings when evaluating a new partner.
Contracting and SLA’s
During this stage, review meetings should be conducted with vendor partners. The meetings should be held with appropriate attendees from process, legal, finance, etc. Make sure the contract is negotiated so that both parties win. One-sided contracts tend to be short-lived and counterproductive when looking to achieve lasting results. Cover all critical SLAs, KPIs, business requirements, IT/security requirements, pricing, dates, and exit clauses.
Onboarding Support and Ongoing Review
Mutual agreement between both parties is the cornerstone of a successful contract. The vendor partner cannot be successful unless they are provided all required support and information to perform their services. Invest time during the implementation and onboarding process. The review meetings should be held on a regular schedule (i.e., once a week, month, quarterly, half yearly or yearly), depending on the strategy and client expectations. The agenda of these meetings should include the following points:
- Discussion of performance against metrics
- Action points from previous review meetings
- Areas of improvement
- Support needed to drive project improvement, etc.