There’s an old African proverb that I think is very relevant to the work we do when delivering complex IT transformation projects:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
The concept behind this is pretty powerful, but the reality of it is even stronger, and is totally relevant to how we pull together teams that make the magic happen for our clients.
More often than not, this togetherness goes beyond the HighPoint team that we deploy on these initiatives. It also relates to the set of technology partners and third-party collaborators that we must successfully bring together if we want to create a formidable delivery team that guarantees best in class outcomes.
Our clients trust us to leverage additional capability to supplement our skills and allow us to go further with the project. I like to think about this from the perspective of Geoffrey Moore’s Core and Context model. What’s core to us are our critical capabilities, the technologies and reference architectures that we specialise and excel in delivering as well as the methodologies that we use to successfully implement them for our clients. The stuff that we’re best at delivers a differentiated set of outcomes for our clients. But there are often ‘contextual’ capabilities that may also be important to a project, which are not our primary focus at HighPoint. In these cases, selecting and introducing best in class, trusted partners with responsibility for specific portions of a project is key. With these complementary contextual skills on board, we are able to confidently offer a much broader scope of services to meet the client’s needs.
To give an example, we’ve formed a partnership with a specialist provider to develop our automation capabilities within the Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) technology space, the goal being to build tools that will complement our delivery methodology. This capability allows our engineers to click a button to consume and apply smarts to the information gathered without having to go through the manual effort of gathering it. When we first sought out this partnership, development was not an area of HighPoint’s core capability, so we took the time to select a specialist partner to bring in these skills and build an evolving platform that could be updated with every engagement and that supported the HighPoint team in their delivery. Similarly, in the contact centre space, we have an expert partner that works seamlessly alongside our engineers to focus specifically on the complexities of Cisco’s UCCE (Unified Contact Centre Enterprise) technology.
In every case where we involve a third-party partner in a project in this way, HighPoint always retains overall responsibility for the project and its success. Our ability to deliver is, after all, the reason our clients choose to work with us. We never white label a specialist partner’s capability or attempt to present it as our own; it’s just not necessary. In our view, what is absolutely essential is that all projects, including those utilising contributing partners, generate the same level of trust, shared responsibility and cultural fit.
So how do we find Partners we want to work with?
Like most relationships that are built in HighPoint, our personal contacts are key; these are often people with whom our team has worked before, people we have trust in due to their proven capacity to deliver to the same standards and most importantly, people who are in sync culturally with the way we work.
Of course, it may be that a contextual capability becomes increasingly important to our clients over time. In these cases we build a plan to invest in developing the core skills within the HighPoint team to accommodate this. But generally it’s our intention to generate trust and a great working relationship with our partners so we can call on them when needed. It does take a little time to learn how to work with a new partner and of course, the first engagement is always the hardest. Making sure you have clear alignment and transparency of requirements from the outset is a key element for success. Our intention is always to build one set of clear objectives with shared accountability. We scope the work with the client first before scoping it out with the partner. Once the first engagement is underway, we soon fall into a rhythm. We discuss client feedback clearly and transparently and always focus on getting to the outcome and applying the HighPoint fundamental of blameless problem-solving when things don’t go to plan.
On rare occasions, a project might also include a specialist team from a specific technology vendor. In this scenario, the project is likely to include a new to market technology that the customer is adopting and wants a level of vendor assurance that the technology will deliver “what it says on the tin”. In this instance, the vendor’s engineers become part of the project team and work alongside us to consult and advise but at the same time to question and understand, thus giving everyone a richer experience. The delivery ecosystem is expanded, but the same principles remain; we create one delivery plan for the client and one team to engage with, all of whom are focused on the same outcome.
When we get this right it’s effortless; one of our specialist partners reminded me the other day that we completed our first project together almost two years ago and since then have been working together through a multitude of follow on projects in the same technology space. I was glad they highlighted this milestone as it represents the collective success we shared. This approach to partnering represents a win for the client, a win for our partners, and a win for HighPoint. To borrow from the old cliché: it’s not a case of “one team, one dream” but “one team, many dreams!”
As we move into our planning cycle for 2021 we will wrap our trusted partners into the process giving them the visibility of the parts of our project pipeline that are most relevant to them. Some of these projects may not be totally signed off yet, but early visibility allows our partners to factor in critical projects to their own resourcing plans and availability.
Our partner and delivery ecosystem is continually growing and enhancing. To paraphrase that African proverb once more, we’re able to go much further and deliver much more extensively for our clients by going together, as one extended team where trust and seamless client delivery are the critical watchwords.
If you want to talk some more about how HighPoint can help deliver technology transformation leveraging our powerful ecosystem, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time.
By Ankit Patel, Director of Professional Services, HighPoint