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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Partnering With Technology Companies

Brad Feld points out to Jim Lejeal (Oxlo CEO’s) interesting post on working with Microsoft .

Based on my association with with multiple technology partners of various size and hue – I would like to offer my perspective (In layman terms -each relationship requires special focus and thrust and greatly depends on who is driving the relationship and at what level and with what objective):

- In general any technology product company’s approach to partnership varies from region-to-region and from vertical to account may vary based on the context – Over a period of time when the DNA of the both the enterprises become transparent to each other – the understanding may be better when every available opportunity may go through the relationship based first right of refusal basis- assuming that both enterprises have the needed skills to address the opportunity at hand.

Generally product companies look upto consulting companies in need of:

-Providing good solution propositions to prospects in pre-sale stage – Every product company would have specific industry solutions but a strong endorsement by a consulting company/system integrator improves the positioning in the mind of the customer a lot – Of course some consulting companies dictate what the product vendor need to do in presales(I was involved in a transaction where IBM consulting had sold a million dollar plus product license sale when no-one from the said product company had ever met the customer –both before and after sales!! – This is another extreme though occasions like this could be few and far between).
- Help in demonstrating that product would meet the requirements – by POC’ and demo’s etc.
- Involved help in deploying solutions- seamless integration of the consultants with the product team is a must.

From a relationship perspective,
-It is important to know the product companies org structure and know who matters and should keep track of all movements - Stay close in all possible ways with the designated contact -understand how you can make him succeed.
- Every company is different and definitely need to invest in time and effort to understand what their culture is and how do they measure their people.
- Insist and put in place a governance structure with defined charter to review health of the relationship with an objective to improve it constantly.
- Its important to have relationship at all levels in the product companies- CEO, CTO ,PS head, Sales at all levels & Mktg dept etc.
- Develop a partnership maturity index and review how this can be improved and understand how your partner ranks in their internal scheme of things - this should go beyond formalised relaionships and catalogs -an imporant index -understand how many times you get talked about in their internal meets.
- It is essential to attend all partner events – actively participate in their events and at the right moment get the opportunity to work with them on all dimensions- Engineering, Support Services,, Professional Services, Verticalised solutions, add on solutions, demo’s & collaterals .. ad infinitum for opportunities to pursue –Understanding how and where we can add value if the key to success.
Last but not the least- regular meetings, constant follow-ups and aggressively pursuing a jt biz.plan – all these are bare minimum’s for an sustainable partnership. A lot more can be written - we shall try this another occassion.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"