Strategic Partnerships: Selecting a Winner

Strategic Partnerships Selecting Winner

If you are like me it has taken a while but right around now you are finally settling back into a rhythm with your team and your business. Isn’t this online meeting and collaboration supposed to be so much easier than before… or is it really?  No doubt whether you are using Teams, Google, Slack, Zoom or any of these very capable online tools not only are you finding yourself inundated with Meetings after Meeting but you are finding it harder than ever.  Harder than ever to collaborate when collaboration means trying to heard a bunch of talking heads in small little boxes on your screen to a common goal.   Do you find yourself wishing for the days where we could all just get into a conference room together and hash it out or get up to a whiteboard where we could easily capture and evaluate ideas?  There is something to be said for good old school real human interaction.  You know – when you can scan the room, read the body language, guide the meeting and leverage the invisible cues of relationships.  

And if this hasn’t become challenging enough – it is frequently critical to work with a strategic partner to help you achieve your product vision and goals.  No matter what your industry, choosing the right partner has never been easy, but now it has become more important and harder than ever.  With everything going virtual you have to count more than ever on the ability of your partner to understand your goals, have the right skills to execute upon your vision and to bring back timely results with less and less guidance.   Managing and overseeing projects and deadlines is always notoriously difficult even when it is your own employees who are committed to your business.  In “normal” times projects need hands-on guidance to keep them on track and accountable.  Now in the “new normal” this needs to be done through tiny port holes where it is even easier than ever for a partner to shirk accountability, rationalize delays or produce results that are simply not on par with your need.  The reality is that virtual frequently means less visible. And less visible means there is a much higher risk of failure.  In today’s macro environment the acceptable margin for failure for businesses is slimmer than ever.

This is especially true of highly technical fields such as User Experience Design for Networking and Security.   It is hard to throw a stone without hitting some Tom, Dick or Harry firm that claim they can do your design.  Likely they honestly believe they can but when push comes to shove – the truth is they simply do not have the creativity and/or subject matter expertise to know what to do and how to execute.  I liken this to trying to build a home “Chefs” kitchen without bothering to work with a Chef.  Many think having seen one on TV they can bring the vision to life but in reality only a Chef actually has the experience necessary.  A Chef understands the workflow of the kitchen, who does what and in which role, how to stream line the process to assure output, and many other critical aspects right down to which equipment will get the job done and last the test of time. This is much the same in Networking and Security where it is critical to work with a partner with experience designing tools for the configuration, deployment and monitoring of large scale Networking and Security cloud and appliance-based solutions, a deep upstanding of how products are used day to day by different roles in an organization, a firm grasp of standards and protocols, and a knowledge of the competitive landscape that can help you deliver your product vision.  I think we all have had an “ah ha” moment when we realized that the partner we are depending upon turned out to have unexpected “gaps”.   Have you ever heard someone ask “Can you explain those routing protocols?” or “What is a horizontal attack?”. My personal favorite is “What is a SOC?”