In today’s increasingly complex business environment, it makes far more sense for companies to serve rapidly-evolving customer needs by aligning with other firms that possess needed capabilities instead of building such capacities internally.  This is especially the case for organisations that rarely have the time or the resources to extensively develop new core competencies—or even the appetite for risk that such investments entail.

What this means, however, is that the scalability of any business becomes increasingly dependent on the quality of its partnerships. As a business expands to meet the growing demands of its customers, it needs to ensure that the partners that constitute vital elements of its value chain can match its expansion and the rate of its growth.

Hence, as businesses look forward to growing their businesses, they need to shift their view of partnerships from one of short-term convenience to one of long-term compatibility. In practical terms, this means going beyond evaluating potential partners in terms of the usual criteria of product price, implementation speed, service quality, etc., and asking the following questions as well:

Are their long-term interests aligned with yours?

Given how quickly the marketplace evolves, it’s important to determine if a potential partner’s long-term vision and mission match—or are at least compatible—with your company’s and if your respective industries face similar futures. Otherwise, you might find the partner breaking things off at an inopportune time because your engagement with them wasn’t part of their core business to begin with.

Can they scale up or down as your business requires?

Again, given how rapidly things change in the market, a prospective partner needs to be able to quickly adjust their offerings to the fluctuating needs of your business. This is particularly critical for organisations that operate in highly seasonal markets and where getting “locked” into a particular level of service for a fixed length of time can be disastrous both financially and operationally.

Are they willing to work with you over the long haul?

This consideration goes over and beyond the first consideration listed above. Two companies can share the same vision and mission, but that doesn’t guarantee the stability and reliability of the relationship. A prospective partner’s commitment can be demonstrated by their willingness to assume some your business’s risk, to share the responsibility for failures, to contribute technical expertise, and to communicate openly about what works and what doesn’t work. In short, a good prospective partner is one that is willing to literally be a part of your organisation’s team.

As today’s marketplace trends deepen, organisations can expect a future where long-term business success is a function of participating in a healthy network of robust alliances. As the English poet John Donne wrote nearly 400 years ago: “No man is an island.” Today, more than at any other point in the past, we can say the same about businesses.

A key area that organisations can manage more effectively and efficiently with a long-term partner is the area of their office workflow processes. As a business grows, its office operations likewise grow in scale and complexity and administrative costs can quickly get out of hand.

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The opinions expressed by the writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Fuji Xerox Smart Work Innovation, or the management. Fuji Xerox Smart Work Innovation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writers.