What kind of relationship do you have with your IT service providers? Many organizations make the mistake of choosing an IT service vendor and not an IT service partner. West Monroe Partners’ Performance Services strives to build partnerships, not just a contract driven support relationship.
Service providers in the traditional sense have been vendors. They provide a bill of goods or services for an agreed upon fee. More often than not, organizations choose their provider based solely on tangible items; cost, service definition, location proximity, contract terms, etc. Below, we’ll explore some of the intangibles needed to evaluate an IT service provider.
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The vendor/client relationship is two-sided. Each party is advocating on their own behalf for their standards, structure, interests, and needs.
The engagement is very push/pull. Each party advocates for their own interests. In this relationship structure, client & provider are not strategically aligned. While they may have similar interests, they are not having the ‘tactical’ discussions to create a “win/win” relationship.
Vendor relationships are often focused on the shorter term, where each party is working to meet their own current goals and initiatives. Rarely are parties engaging on how they may better align to create greater value to the business through the services and products.
Client (purchaser) objectives are to:
- Ensure they’re getting a high ROI (return on investment)
- Lower their IT spend
- Provide a quality end users/business experience
- Meet the business requirements
- Align IT services to business needs and roadmap
From an IT service provider’s (sellers) side, they hope to:
- Minimize their cost of providing a service
- Increase margins
- Expand business development and sales
- Leverage resources & standardize services across clients
- Align services to business/sales opportunities
By building a partnership, two organizations can work closely together for common goals and mutual benefit. The IT service provider establishes themselves as a trusted advisor and seeks to offer insights and guidance to the client. Throughout the engagement, the client should look to involve the provider in strategic planning (both IT and business focused) to ensure future alignment between the organizations.
Characteristics of a Partnership:
- Both parties are transparent and open with their goals and initiatives
- Each party seeks to find common ground on which they can engage
- They create a mutually beneficial relationship
- Both parties assist each other’s’ development
Each party will manage their own independent goals and objectives. Frequent and open dialogue can identify and overcome conflicts of interest. Occasionally, parties will need to concede their own specific interests to ensure overall, long-term health of the relationship. For example, a service provider might direct a client to a lower cost solution despite directly impacting monthly fees, or client might pay higher cost for a specific service to maintain a larger relationship. In the end, a partnership grows from ensuring both parties are meeting their objectives.
To gain some insights on how to create a partnered relationship check out this White Paper CLICK HERE