Working with global teams has become the norm for most businesses. Whether you need to find scarce digital talent or are looking to bring in new skills and capabilities to reach your business objectives, working with partners is core to the business strategy of many organizations.
However, despite the fact that many organizations are more familiar than ever when working with partners, there still exists a wide range of maturity – from those enterprises with a long history of collaborative work and individuals with extensive vendor management expertise, to those organizations just starting out and exploring for the first time what kinds of partners are available.
Despite the potential of working together, organizations can still face challenges. Fortunately, these challenges can be overcome with awareness, preparation, and proactiveness. We can typically define two main categories- challenges with the technology and technological objectives; and challenges with working and managing teams.
Based on our experience working with clients, we recommend a few key tips to ensure success. These include:
- Define your metrics for success. This applies not just to the metrics for your software development team, but also for the overarching business goals. Organizations that find it easy to work with partners not only have a broad vision for what they want to achieve, but also more specific metrics down to individual team levels.
- Identify priorities and make sure to align on them. Organizations that struggle when working with partners often have internal issues to deal with, particularly with regard to priorities at the individual, team and organizational level. Approaches such as OKRs (objectives and key results) help bring together an organization to be working towards its key priorities.
- Set realistic expectations. When working with new partners, it’s important that both sides have an open and honest conversation about what can be achieved. This includes everything from what you will be paying, the expected ramp up time of the team, to the final outcomes.
- Get to know your partner. By this I mean consider their culture and their people. These are the “softer” factors that are all too often ignored or insufficiently prioritized. They are admittedly often hard to quantitatively assess, but by spending time together, visiting in person your service provider, you will be able to personally get to know the individuals. In our experience, these visits are invaluable in creating bonds between the client and their nearshore team. And as with many things in life, success is easiest when the relationship is characterized by honesty and transparency – and by getting to know the individuals you increase the chances of this happening.
- Ensure your team has easy access to communication tools. In a similar vein to the previous point, modern software development cannot be conducted in isolation. It requires teams of developers, business analysts, quality assurance experts, and others, to work closely together. This means you need to use various communication and workflow management tools. Make it easy for your people to share their screen at a touch of a button, or have a video call.
- If you’re new to working with partners, look for guidance. For those organizations which don’t yet have strong governance processes in place for working with partners, look to your service provider for help and best practices. This can involve everything from SLA development, creating more standardized processes, distributed Agile development practices, to program management capabilities.
Ultimately, when working with a partner, you’re looking to create a close relationship, characterized as a trusted advisor. Thousands of organizations have worked with service providers successfully – when there are difficulties these are often due to a range of factors from internal aspects to lack of maturity.
It’s not enough to simply go through a selection process and find a partner and hope everything will work out well. Rather you’re looking at an ongoing relationship that requires work from everyone involved – doing so ensures your organization is set-up for long-term success.