In this edition of ‘what the buyer wants’ Johnny Serrano, chief information officer of mining industry hardware and software solutions provider GroundProbe, discusses what he looks for in an external IT partner and what makes for a good partner engagement.
ARN: What sort of services do you usually engage external partners for?
JS: The services we would engage external partners for would fall into the categories of support services and consulting agencies that have a bespoke skill-set and are knowledgeable of industry standards.
Being a global company, we also need to ensure that we adhere to international regulations, so we engage with advisory services specialising in compliance and global specific infrastructure.
ARN: What do you look for in an external IT services partner?
JS: Although there are several key factors we take into account, there are two crucial elements we take into consideration, which are skill-set and experience. We need to ensure that our partners’ staff have the knowledge and expertise we need and expect from a top-tier partner.
ARN: What are the most important factors when engaging an external IT services partner?
JS: The most important factor when engaging with an external IT services partner is their responsiveness and cohesion with our team. The engagement needs to be seamless when we’re working on the same projects, timelines and deadlines.
ARN: What type of engagements do you typically have with your external partners?
JS: The type of engagement [we have] with partners will be driven by the type of service required. These services can be either short-term or long-term engagements. Successful partnerships do not have to be long-term; shorter engagements, while ending quicker, may achieve a high value, and it is important to recognise the positive impact the partnership accomplished.
The long-term engagement provides security for both parties so that they can focus on achieving goals whilst acknowledging and respecting each partner’s differences such as organisational culture, resources or management style.
ARN: What are those existing relationships like?
JS: Our existing relationships are great. We have established frameworks that ensure we utilise the right partners and understand which partners strengths will be required for certain areas.
ARN: What makes for a good partner engagement?
JS: The most important thing for a good engagement is cohesion and trust between the teams involved. Essentially, when we engage with our partners, we’re bringing them along on the journey with us in setting out to achieve our key goals.
ARN: What makes for a bad engagement?
JS: When there is no open-ended communication, it can often end up in misalignment. You will see a lack of responsiveness, poor performance and, overall, a loss of cohesion. This can result in an increase in budget due to resources not being utilised correctly.
ARN: Do you have any horror stories involving partners?
JS: Fortunately, I do not have any horror stories or have not allowed those relationships to progress that far. It is critical that you identify the warning signs early and make the hard decisions for long term success.
ARN: Do you have any major success stories involving partners?
JS: We were fortunate to partner with an unknown, up-and-coming disruptor while there were traditional partners available. The emerging technology benefits from the new partner were significant, this partner is now well-known globally and we continue to build a strong relationship with them.
ARN: If you could offer one key piece of advice to prospective IT services partners, what would it be?
JS: Be sincere, honest and show your clients you care. Not every call made to a client has to have a dollar value behind it. When wanting to build a relationship, it’s important to pick up a phone and ‘check-in’ with your client every once in a while.