For the third article in this series, we’re going to consider the Partnership Framework Strategic Plan

 “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Does your strategy support your route to market?

If your strategy says little about your route to market, or how you will work with partners, then expect things to get a bit sticky as you grow your business.

Do you have a documented partnership or Route-to-market (RTM) strategy? Or is there just one line in your company’s strategic plan. For example, saying ‘new products will be sold into new European markets through VARs’ without further clarity?

You know that a simple, well-communicated strategy is the key to maximising business. Creating a Partnership Strategy, which goes beyond the top-level corporate strategy, doesn’t need to be a long, expensive process. We use a series of workshops to rapidly build a consensus. We then create a plan which you can implement, not file on the shelf. In addition, through multiple engagements we’ve seen that you need to address internal incentives early on and aligned to the strategy. It’s an emotive subject, so get help to communicate the reasoning behind the policy.

Finally, for larger organisations, you should consider creating a wider internal communications programme to ensure your organisation understands the strategy, especially if you have both direct and indirect sales or both internal and partner solution development.

Partnership Framework Strategic Plan – what is it?

The Partnership Framework Strategic Plan covers the development of the Partnership Strategy, the Tools and Processes for its implementation and management, and plans for Incentives and Internal Communications.

Why do we need it?

If your organisation has a corporate, business unit or product strategy that describes ‘the route to market’ strategy in detail, then a separate Partnership Strategy might not be required. But many organisations do not, and the cost of implementing partnerships with no strategy can be significant; from management time to debating best approaches, to revising proposals, and trying to introduce attractive but irrelevant partners.

Few organisations have a partnering culture. For many partnering is a challenge. Having a partnership strategy, incentives for staff to follow it, and internal communications to ensure everyone understands the approach is vital, to avoid prevarication and internal conflict.

What are the key activities?

Strategy Section of Partnership Framework

Partnership Strategy: The process and documentation of the proposed approach to partnering, covering the Partnering Audit, Tools and Processes, Partner Requirements, and Partnership SWOT.

Tools and Processes: The proposed tools and processes needed to implement a successful approach to partnering. This may typically include information sharing tools, communications, management, audit.

Incentives: The creation and presentation of an incentive policy, or the changes to an existing policy, to facilitate partnering and ensure the Partnerships Strategy will be effective.

Internal Communication: The planning of a programme to explain and encourage support of the partnership strategy. This should be as comprehensive as required to cover the entire organisation.

Doesn’t this just duplicate existing activities?

If these activities are already covered by the existing management or relevant departments, that’s great, indicating your company has a mature approach to partnering. But often, these are the activities that fall through the gaps. As a result, companies are hampered by poor communication, endless arguments over bonus payments, disagreement on the value of partnerships, and indirect-direct sales conflicts. At a minimum, this affects efficiency, but often also reduces revenue and eats into margin. Fixing it is relatively simple but needs a fresh perspective and a Partnership Framework approach.

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