So, you’ve been selected by a client to conduct a segment of work. But so has another company. As it turns out, the client wants you both to collaborate to ensure a successful delivery.
Now that you’re in this situation, it’s likely that one of two feelings has taken over: Fear or interest.
How Will You React?
Fear will no doubt inspire anxiety-fueled questions: Will the other company interfere with our team? Will they try to take credit for our work? Will they attempt to take the larger share of the scope?
On the other hand, interest should inspire questions of self-improvement: Is this an opportunity to learn from another business? To collaborate and produce a better client outcome through joint efforts? To benchmark and measure ourselves against another organization for reflection and improvement?
For most vendors, the former feeling is often the one brought to the forefront. Human and corporate nature tend to provoke inward thinking, which subsequently evokes protectionism. And each organization involved has the same underlying drivers: Securing short-and long-term revenue, safeguarding delivery reputation and client relationships, and defending their business interests.
However, with each vendor seeking self-preservation to the detriment of the other companies, the true victim is the client. Rather than creating the right environment for the client’s benefit, fear fosters conflict and distraction, reducing the chances of success”the reason the client hired multiple organizations in the first place.
But is it for good reason? Perhaps. Many have experienced situations where a company, supposedly working collaboratively, has inadvertently (or intentionally) secured one of their business drivers to the detriment of the other vendors involved.
Still, does that mean the other suppliers should then work the same way? And are clients blind to these events, so that any loss of synergy goes unnoticed anyway?Â Probably not.
Remembering the Client’s Needs
It’s important to remember that if a client desires employing multiple organizations as part of delivery, then there is reasoning behind that decision. The first step is understanding why. And that means considering their perspective.
Maybe it’s to spread risk. Or to access skills and capabilities no single company can supply. Perhaps it’s to assess multiple providers before making a longer-term sourcing decision. It could even be to improve governance and management. Understanding the œwhy of the situation will help you determine how to act accordingly.
In addition, realize how this arrangement can benefit you and your organization. And not what you can take from the other company, or how you can place your organization in a more favorable light. Rather, consider aspects such as absorbing insights about the client and other suppliers, identifying capabilities that could be improved, or contemplating potential partnerships that could help win new (or different) business in the future.
Don’t think clients are naÃ¯ve. They notice when the organizations they’ve contracted aren’t working towards the common goal. When those organizations defend rather than partner. When their interests are not put first.
Knowing a supplier will work for the client and hold that client’s interests above their own is typically on every procurement scorecard and is higher up the selection criteria listing than you may think. After all, if a supplier can’t be trusted to act in the best interest of the client, then that supplier is of little value from the client’s perspective, regardless of skill level or available resources.
So, do great work, even when that work requires collaborating with other vendors. The client will be happy, which is the most important part, but your organization will also open itself up to valuable learning and improvement opportunities.
[This was part 1 of a two-part post. Read the 2nd part (client perspective) here.]