What is the definition of a strategic partnership with a vendor?

In this post I try to outline a few features of what I would consider a strategic partnership with a service provider or a technology vendor.  These are thoughts that I have distilled from years of experience (good and bad) with my vendor partners. 

Hence this aspect of doing business cannot be overlook and not the least of these is the "cost" of doing business.

Here are a few key attributes, not necessarily in any particular order of preference.

1) the strategic partner relationship has to go beyond a transactional one to that of a more long term one
2) the strategic partner has to have skin in the game - they have to be measured with your success criteria - they can succeed only if you do
3) the strategic partner has to be willing to "share" their technology roadmap with you
4) the strategic partner has to allow you to re-shape their technology roadmap to meet your needs
5) the strategic partner relationship has to include making their test labs, test gear, professional services personnel available to you to expedite a critical path technology prototyping effort or to help test out a strategic technology concept

In summary, I would like to add that a healthy strategic vendor partnership is key to the success of not just a project or a business area (line of business) but also making IT a strategic partner for the business - especially in capturing lost business opportunity with the strategic and timely use of technology - key for this "always connected" social networking world!! 

I am curious to hear from you about your experiences to this effect.
surekha -


  1. Great post!! I agree. The only thing that bothers me dealing with vendors sales or account managers is their "focus". I understand they want to increase their foot print and sell more of different tech products. I usually prefer vendors that give equal or more focus to what's already on my tech landscape and help me make it successful and more reliable in solving business problems.

  2. Mahi - I understand your concerns. I tried to offer a couple of options that are to some extent from my own experience ... not sure if they address your concerns.


    surekha -

  3. Surekha

    I am skeptical abt point # 4. How many vendors would be willing to change their road-map for you? I am not sure if that is a valid precondition for a strategic partnership.

    Again, skin in the game - ofcourse - being paid for the efforts is what their skin is.

    Additionally, a strategic partnership would
    - Be professional and business-like
    - help you succeed. Your success is as important to them as getting paid.
    - if they dont have a solution, say so and connect you with the right approach/people
    - Listen, advise and incorporate feedback into their processes and resources
    - Since you mentioned prototyping, own issues, faults, bugs. Provides fixes ASAP and adhere to SLAs.

    Strategic from your perspective may not be optimal from their perspective. Just like in a marriage, it takes adjustments for a relationship to evolve and become strategic!

    Sometimes I wonder if there can be a true partnership in a business situation! Whoever pays rules, dont they?


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