Success Determined by Partnership Quality
The quality of the partnership – inside or outside an organization – is a major contributory factor for an organization’s success. Whether this be the provision of IT services by a third party (external partnership) or the relationship between Business and IT (internal partnership), organizations are increasingly realizing that their success is largely determined by the quality of their governance over these partnerships.
It is remarkable how much time is devoted to the selection process and contractual matters at the start of a partnership, and then to transition planning (in which countless aspects are addressed), but how little or virtually no attention is paid to the way in which the two parties should work together thereafter.
The realization is dawning that attention needs to be paid to governing partnership relations in a structured fashion and, more importantly, that they require major investment. Important issues that arise in this respect are both parties’ expectations, organizational/individual objectives, values, document interpretation (contracts, SLAs, reports), etc. The fact that people come and go on both sides of the partnership throughout its lifecycle also needs to be kept in mind (Lorenzoni, 1995).
In recent years, extensive experience has been gained in the field of partnership relations. In doing so, it was observed that these involve not only a hard side, i.e. clear agreements and/ or well-organized processes, but that a soft side also exists that is a major contributory factor to the success of the partnership, i.e. the way in which issues are communicated and which information is shared. The aspects critical to the partnership’s success were the same every time and throughout every stage of the contract process – from structuring the partnership to resolving issues through mediation.
This paper aims to share the experience gained and to provide a model by which these aspects can be presented in a cohesive fashion. It is also intended that this model form a guide for embarking upon strategic partnerships, as well as a tool for improving existing partnerships and rectifying deteriorating partnerships. This model is principally a discussion item to encourage dialogue between customers and suppliers – internal and external alike. This dialogue should continue throughout the entire partnership, i.e. at the kick-off, but also at regular intervals in order to keep communication channels open.