Barbara Porter, Ernst & Young: 5 Tips for Successful Project Partnerships

partnerships matter

This is a guest post from Barbara Porter,  Executive Director, Advisor, Customer Practice, Ernst & Young

A lot of time, effort and resources are spent identifying projects and developing RFP’s.  On top of that, add the processes of issuing and evaluating RFP responses.  On top of that, add the time spent meeting with the qualified companies as the choices are narrowed to the final 2 or 3 companies.   This lengthy and often complex process is focused on choosing a partner for a project based upon their knowledge, technical skills, relevant experience and viability.   Once these fundamental criteria are met, how do you know which company is the right partner for a project?

Following are 5 tips I have used to help guide better decisions and project outcomes:

  1. Shared purpose– by working together, define what the shared benefit will be when the project is completed successfully.  This will give you common ground to refer to when challenges come up and  need to get resolved.
  2. Shared philosophy and common culture – whether you will be working together for several years or for long hours over a compressed time – it is a given you will be working together.  Do you operate by the letter of the contract or is there common sense flexibility to solve problems that were not anticipated in the agreement
  3. People – do they have the operational and first hand experience as well as the vision and foresight to help anticipate issues.  Do you like them?  Do you enjoy spending time with them?  If not, take a pass
  4. Aligned goals and metrics – align outcome based metrics by defining specific performance metrics that are the same as you are trying to accomplish internally.   If your business case anticipated a 10%  increase in sales conversion rates and a 15% reduction in call volume, make those same metrics part of the agreement
  5. Defined set of behaviors – agree how the teams will work together, treat each other and resolve issues or conflicts.

At the end of the day, successful partnerships are about building relationships and delivering results for everyone involved.


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