Defining a True Partner – Part 1 – Trust

A title you have surely seen 1,000 times, but what does it really mean?

A partnership between a company and a client is one of the easiest things to create and probably the thing most likely done incorrectly.  I say that with absolute respect for all of you who have selected a partner based on price, location, timing, and even a recommendation from a friend or colleague.  Should any of these be the sole reason you select a partner to do business with?  Absolutely not!

Sometimes you get lucky and your project is successful… head to Vegas or buy a lottery ticket because you my friend are one lucky individual.  Other times you regret the decision within a few weeks and have no time to make a change.  Then there is the project that is so disastrous that you feel the need to tell every single person you meet… the one with the partner whom you will never do business again or, if you can help it, nor will anyone else.  Look in the mirror, have you been in one of these boats?  If you have, and let’s face it MANY of you have, you are likely now the individual who is SO cautious about who you choose to do business with that you may have inadvertently become difficult to work with.  Getting burnt isn’t a satisfying experience.  Fearing another burn?  Probably the worst thing imaginable.

Now let’s think of another approach.  Let’s think of a true partnership based solely on trust. One where you spent the time to select a true business partner because you trusted them.  You trust them so much that you can sleep at night… like a baby.  You know that no matter what happens, this partner will make sure your project will come in on time, on budget, and will be exactly what you asked for or better.  A partner that always keeps you informed, regardless of what is going on.  A partner where, no matter what is happening, you simply don’t have to worry.  Does this sound like nirvana?  Frankly, it should.

So, what makes a partner trusted?  If you think of your past experiences, the answer will typically revolve around an individual.  Someone whom you worked with no matter where they work.  This works… to a point.  You never lose trust in the individual; however, you can lose trust in their company.  That person remains and typically will remain someone you enjoy doing business with.  However, if they make a bad decision regarding where they work, you are stuck with the potential C-players working on your project.  Your trusted resource will find a way to make it work but many times there are unnecessary rough spots along the way that could make a project extremely stressful.  In this situation, unfortunately, you could end up with a less than desirable result that, in often cases, requires another project to correct the issues.

Now, what if that individual connected with others cut from the same cloth?  What if an organization hired, not only your trusted resource, but an entire leadership team with the exact same type of integrity and trust?  When given the opportunity, this type of team will surround themselves with a team of like-minded individuals.  Every company will have a single team like this, even vendors like Oracle, IBM, <insert any large vendor here> will have them.  You know them, that group of individuals that can come in and save the day.  The group that, if you’re lucky to get them, will build you exactly what you requested and gave 100% more.  If you had some other team and ended up with major issues, this team will come in and save the project.  Of course, this leaves you wondering why you didn’t get that team to begin with?  There is one answer to that question… cost.

Your goal is to either get lucky enough to get that A-team or negotiate your deal so you only get that A-team with no chance for the bait and switch.  In most companies large or small, it is a crap shoot.  You will get the answer of “we can’t guarantee what resources you will get, based on availability, at the time of the project” which is roughly translated to “We will not guarantee you that team, but they will be available if/when your project comes off the rails.”

Or, you can find a company that employs an entire team of seasoned A-players where their primary goal is not cost, it is trust and integrity.  They do exist, as impossible as that sounds.  When you find one, they will be your trusted partner for life.  It won’t be about saving a few dollars, it will be about the integrity of the company’s resources and the true trust you have in them to not EVER let you down.

Which would you choose?  I know my answer…

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