More and more software companies are finding ways to partner up to deliver a solution in tandem to a client. This requires a good working relationship not only between two individuals, but two organizations and in the view of the client, be working as one cohesive unit. In a lot of these cases there is typically one organization that will stand out in front as the ‘prime’ contractor with others working as subcontractors. To manage this relationship and to work together to deliver great results to the client there are a few things that need to be in place.
This is the cornerstone of any working partnership. The two parties need to have trust and faith in each other that they know their business and that what decisions they make are for the good of the project. Organizations often partner up because of synergies between products or are ‘married’ by the prospect or client as a condition of the sale. However the partnership is forged, in order to deliver quality results to your client, you need to have trust in your partners.
Division of Responsibilities
As with any project team, there needs to be a clear understanding and of roles and responsibilities. This is not only limited to individuals but in a prime/sub relationship there needs to be an understanding of who will be the ‘front-man’ or the face of the project from the client’s perspective and who will ultimately be accountable for the delivery of the project. This is something that is usually determined during the contracting stage. There are a lot of details to sort out in this area – terms of payment, licensing agreements, payment milestones, billing schedules and the list goes on and on. I’ll talk a little more about the dynamics of contracting between a prime and sub in a future post.
When issues happen (notice I said ‘when’, not ‘if’), there needs to be a unified approach to solving them. If the finger-pointing starts, it’s up to leadership to stomp on that immediately and get the teams focused back on results. If one party is dragging the other behind, there needs to be some healthy conversation about performance expectations and what is needed from them. The client needs to see their contractors standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a unified message at all times. The moment that appears fractured, clients will begin to lose confidence and add to the snowball effect of eroding trust and rising conflict between partners.
Working in a prime/sub relationship can be tricky on a good day however there are significant advantages to building a healthy relationship with partners that can open up larger opportunities for your organization. Having strong leadership in place from both organizations along with a high level of trust and teamwork can produce amazing results that can quickly elevate your organization to the next level.
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