Working with External Partners

Working more effectively with key external customers, partners and suppliers

As customers, supply chains, projects and networks of cooperating organizations become more global and increasingly integrated, the skills for working effectively with external partners have, in turn, become both more necessary and more complex.

image: external partners diagram

Work and business processes cut across organizational boundaries and the traditional functional and geographic silos. We need to share information, cooperate and deliver results together with people from other companies, locations, cultures and time zones.

Common examples of this include:

  • Global account management – where a customer demands a single point of contact or an organization appoints internal resources to manage these high-profile sales and service relationships.
  • Outsourcing and offshoring of work to other locations and often to other organizations, leading to a more complex management and commercial environment.
  • Complex supply chains where work and product moves from one organization to the next and information flows and projects become increasingly integrated and interdependent.
  • Projects where companies bid together and must, consequently, work together to deliver.

When we work across organizational boundaries, we need to engage people from different organizations with different cultures, commercial interests and perspectives, and we need to update our skills to cope.

Some typical problems in managing these kind of relationships can include; a lack of trust; the customer micromanaging the relationship; managing by influence rather than authority;  corporate cultural differences; different ways of working; too much escalation; and difficulties in managing change and innovation.

How can we help?

We work with networks or partnerships of organizations, or with specific cross-organizational teams to develop new ways of working across distance, corporate and national cultures.

Typically this can involve:

  • Preparing both parties (for example, in a move to outsourcing or off shoring) for the people management challenges they are likely to face in both the transition and in the new way of managing remotely.
  • Building and strengthening virtual teams with members from two or more companies that need to cooperate to deliver a result.
  • Identifying and resolving specific relationship issues between two or more organizations,  such as corporate cultural differences or different ways of working.
  • Helping build a more open corporate culture that other organizations find easier to cooperate with.

Many organizations spend tens, even hundreds, of millions on common Information Systems to connect themselves with their customers and supply chain partners. As this form of cooperation becomes more common, it is equally important to build the skills and way of working that enables these complex relationships to succeed.

Our programs in this area are tailored to your precise mix of challenges, cultures and any constraints you face. We have existing training modules and experience in these areas, and can quickly tailor a program that deals with your specific situation.

Thanks for yesterday. I enjoyed your delivery style and found some of the content fascinating, particularly the personal examples which brought it to life. Many of the considerations will be valuable for onshore relationships as well as offshore!” Risk Manager, Global Bank

If you need to work more effectively with your customers, suppliers, or critical business partners, why not…?

  • Watch our YouTube videos or listen to one of our podcasts to find out more about our ideas.
  • Speak to one of our specialists to find out how we can tailor something to meet your specific training needs.
  • Join one of our social networks to keep up to date with developments in this field.

There is a handy form on the right of this page (on most devices) to request more information or to contact our closest office to speak to a specialist. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs.

Last updated October 2013

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