QFD for product & business development

Leveraging Partnerships

Leveraging Partnerships

Ensuring partnerships are managed to their full potential

Profile

This case study concerns the Partner Services Group of Microsoft UK, a large, well-known software house. Their role is to increase the volume of software licences by inspiring, equipping and supporting a number of key partners in implementing Microsoft software as part of their partner’s systems solution to the end-customer. Also, their role is to build relationships between Microsoft and its partner organisations which ensure that groundbreaking achievements continue to be built upon.

Issues

Fig1.  Partnership as an arrangement of complementary processes

Fig1. Partnership as an arrangement of complementary processes

Partnership is a crucial element of Microsoft’s competitive strategy, particularly as the company seeks to become a
major force in new markets (predominantly enterprise solutions). But the IT sales environment is very fast-moving, and it is difficult to predict the opportunities that will arise far beyond the immediate horizon. As a result of this uncertainty, partnership strategies often fail to recognise all of the opportunities for growing business together and can often be weak at putting into place the mid to long-term mechanisms which will maximise the benefits to both parties.

Objective

Fig2. Using QFD to deploy partnership objectives

Fig2. Using QFD to deploy partnership objectives

The new manager of the Partner Services Group saw that there was a major opportunity here. His past experience of using QFD, and his extensive work on partnerships, made him well aware that it was possible to massively increase sales and improve customer satisfaction, through a more effective joint planning process. The key was to develop enough commitment and trust in each partnership to enable ambitious strategies to be identified and fulfilled. He saw QFD as a means of doing exactly that, and of developing the outcome into an effective partnership plan.

Approach

The QFD approach was initially applied, separately, to each of five partners. Each application had a number of common elements, but each differed slightly to take account of the specific needs of the relationship, the characters involved, and the learning from earlier applications.
In each case, there was a joint planning workshop, which was preceded by interviews with the key players in each organisation, and this was followed up with regular progress meetings against clear plans and measures of performance. But in each case the nature of the workshop was adjusted to accommodate the needs of the key players, and the level of maturity of the current relationship.
The following overview of the first (pilot) partnership planning workshop gives some insight into how the process worked in practice. It was arranged at a hotel somewhere between both organisations’ offices, and ran over two days.

Read the full article →PFD Leveraging Partnerships

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