Why should we audit anything – our partners are happy, we’re happy. What’s the point?

When talking about the Partnership Framework, a typical conversation goes this way…

How did you find your first partner? ‘Well, I met this guy on a plane and he thought our solution would be great in the Netherlands. As a result of that chance meeting, we struck a deal and the partner did well for the first 8 months…’

And the second partner? ‘Well, we decided we needed a larger partner with more integration skills. Consequently we approached PriceAtosData and negotiated a big deal – it took 18 months!’

And what was the impact on sales? ‘Err… zero.’

Ok, few are that bad, but many companies address partnerships in an opportunistic way. This is in contrast to the method they’d use for product development or new facilities. Starting with an opportunistic deal is fine, as it tests the whole proposition, but it’s not the best approach to long-term growth. At some stage reviewing where you are up to – your partners, your capabilities and the case for partnering – will allow you to develop the best approach. At Expertek we call this the Audit.

Why have audits?

Very few companies audit their partner relationships. If everything’s going well, perhaps that’s not a bad thing? ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’? However, an audit is useful to ‘reset’ a relationship (or relationships). It confirms that the correct resources and processes are in place to maximise the benefit to the organisation, both in the short and long term.

Audits can be triggered: by concerns over progress with partnering; by a need to consolidate existing approaches; as a precursor to developing a formal strategy; or as a periodic tool for confirming the ongoing validity, relevance and cost-effectiveness of the existing approach and outcomes.

Partnership Framework - Audit

Audit what?

In the Expertek Partnership Framework the Audit objectively assesses the in-house partnering capabilities AND existing partners. We break it into three activities:

Partnering Audit

A review of the ability of the organisation to partner, and of the match between existing partner resources, market reach, delivery capability etc. and current business goals. The end result may be recommendations to change internal organisational structures, recruit new partners, or bring to an end an existing relationship.

Partnering Internal Business Case

This is the financial business case for implementing the recommendations of the Partnering Audit. It helps in two ways. Firstly, to provide justification for any investment. Secondly it turns the conversation into a strategic one, rather than one based on preferences and prejudices.

Partner Audit

This is a review of existing partners and their ability to deliver on current business objectives. It can be a stand-alone task or feed into the Partnering Audit.

What’s the best approach to Audits?

It’s important to take a team approach and test the findings at every stage. If partnering is an appropriate business strategy, developing or updating the financial business case for the creation and implementation of a partnership strategy should be a requirement.

At Expertek we use a combination of custom processes and templates. These streamline the activities and ensures all aspects of partnering are covered. However, it’s important to adapt these to the specific organisation and the market(s) being addressed, as every combination is different.

In future posts I’ll delve into other parts of the Partnership Framework. For an introduction, read the Introducing the Partnership Framework post.