Vox pop: What's the biggest risk when partnering with other partners?

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This article appeared in the December 2016 issue of CRN magazine.

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Vox pop: What's the biggest risk when partnering with other partners?

Glenn Irvine, national practice manager Google Solutions, Dialog Information Technology

As far as partnering with other partners within our ecosystem, we’ve had some pretty good experiences. You get the odd one that’s a bit challenging, but I find here in Queensland the partnering has been pretty good. 

It works best in ad-hoc situations where you don’t want to build a particular skillset and can find someone who has that skillset already. At the Dialog Google solutions practice, we’re pretty good deployers, but training is another skillset. We’ll often bring in a separate training partner. To guard against loss of profitability, finger-pointing and lack of accountability, it’s about checking partners’ reputation and track record. You look for organisations that have been recommended by others, particularly within your own ecosystem. As a Google partner, we can obtain feedback from Google people, from other Google partners and even customers.

John McVicker, founder and managing director, Best Technology Services

We’ve been set up to provide field services to the channel, so all we do is work for other channel partners and vendors.

Loss of profitability is a pitfall in the context of partnering with external companies. Unless you’re very well versed in your particular market, it’s difficult to structure a service or agreement where the risk is shared by all parties involved.

In addition, if a partner is incented to provide services at a fixed price, you can make quite a bit of margin when things are going really well, but if the deal is incorrect or the risk is not spread appropriately, the partner can lose money.

Many channel partners are inclined to use their own resources so they can maintain the margins of delivering services. However, the true cost of using higher-level resources is not always measured beyond a return on what is viewed as an already sunk cost.

David Perrett, chief technology officer, EFEX

Diluting the customer relationship and customer experience is what we most want to avoid. So we have real trepidation around partnering with other channel participants. 

But you do need to balance that with access to capabilities beyond your in-house skillset and being able to ramp up your resourcing from time to time. I would always lean towards a white-labelling relationship, where you bring people in and they work on your behalf, rather than simply sharing a customer and working together.

We think owning the customer is imperative. When it comes to servicing the customer, we do a pretty good job, so why compromise that? It’s important we get this right as we’re new into the wider managed services space and we are really ramping up, with AFL team Greater Western Sydney signing with us as a managed services provider for all their technology needs. 

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