Do you have the capabilities and capacity on your team to deliver innovative, marketing-leading products on-time? If not, bringing on the right partner may be a smart strategy.

Although you may have a crackerjack in-house development team, can they provide all the knowledge and horsepower you need to launch breakthrough products on-time, on-spec and on-budget?  Often there are some gaps – which frequently contribute to costly delays.  For example:


  • About 80% of new products miss their launch date (according to a CGT/Sopheon survey).
  • For a product with $10 million in stabilized annual revenue delivering a 60% margin over a six-year life, a six-month delay can cost nearly $4 million in lost profit.


Some of our clients choose to engage partners to shore-up the gap and to mitigate this risk. Benefits of working with a partner include:


  • Augment your core team to provide temporary capacity.
  • Augment your core team to provide capabilities/skills outside your core competencies.
  • Ability to tap into emerging skill sets in new technologies.


How do you choose the best partner?  What will ensure that partnership works?


Before we dive in, do you know how much profit is at risk for each month your product launch is delayed?  Download our Cost of Delay Calculator to find out.


  • Input expected revenue, margin, development costs, and projected product life.
  • Conduct what-if analysis to see how much profit is lost for each month of delay.
  • Engage in a conversation with your team to mitigate the risk.


5 Factors to Consider When Evaluating Potential Partners


Great Partners Invest in Culture & People


Talented developers have plenty of options – does the partner invest in attracting and retaining the best people?  Ask about attrition rates.  Ask about training programs.  Check Glassdoor to understand satisfaction.  Does leadership have a strong track record as an employer of choice?  Look for signals that the team is happy, stimulated, and motivated.


Great Partners Invest in the Future


If you need to drive innovation, don’t you need a partner who does the same?  Do they build proofs-of-concept to grapple with new concepts?  How do they keep this knowledge at the forefront?  Is it part of a training program?  Are there employee special interest groups? Look for evidence that they explore new technologies and emerging trends.


Great Partners are Responsive


Every interaction is evidence of how the partner may view your project.  Is there a sense of excitement?  Is the team interested in getting to know your business and your unique needs?  Do you have access to the management team?  All of these are keys to understanding the level of client focus.


Great Partners are Great at What They Do


Sounds simple, right?  Some partners can talk a good game but fail to deliver.  Ensure they have the requisite technical skills and problem-solving abilities.  Conduct job trials.  Request a pilot project or prototype.  Look to see if they model current and emerging best practices in development.


And insist that they place the right-fit talent on your project – team members with specific skills to address specific gaps you may have.  Make sure they have the bandwidth for your project.  Don’t tolerate bait and switch.


Great Partners Love Process


In addition to necessary regulatory certifications, confirm the partner has a well-documented and certified process.  Next, look at the documentation to ensure the process will work for you.  For instance, too much documentation can be costly, while too little could expose you to risk.  And a well-executed process can ensure new team members are brought up to speed quickly.


4 Keys for Effective Partnerships


Clear Requirements


Invest in market and user research well before engaging a partner.  Although your partner can help you build upon the findings, don’t place this task in their hands – you know your customers and users best.


From there, develop a comprehensive set of requirements.  Invite the partner to conduct additional discovery with you to ensure all ground is covered.  Be specific.  It will take considerable time upfront, but it is always worth the investment.


Clear Deliverables


Get specific here too – what will be done, by whom, by when?  Use industry or industrial standards where applicable and ensure both parties are speaking a common language.  Ask for samples to provide the level of detail you expect is on-point.


Put in the rigor before beginning the work.  Failure to do so inevitably will open the door to debate, which will cost you time – and lost profit.


Clear Acceptance Criteria


Although quantity is easy to assess, quality can be far more difficult.  For example, how would you define a proof-of-concept?  Is it something that shows the mechanics of how the idea will work, without a lot of thought on the user experience?  Or do you want a functional prototype that incorporates design thinking?


Be mindful of what you need at each stage to deliver a sound product while keeping your budget and timeline intact.  In the example above, a quick-and-dirty prototype might enable you to move faster but miss an important functional or aesthetic need.  Conversely, spending too much time here can run up cost and delay the launch.


Clear Coordination


Most teams today operate in an agile development environment.  Work with your partner to ensure their project management planning enables you and your team to collaborate with them (and that changing requirements don’t lead to an unfair burden on the partner).  If your partner wants to keep you at arms-length, watch out – successful partners want and value client input.


When used effectively, partners can be a secret weapon in your arsenal.  And establishing a few trusted relationships can pay dividends for years and keep you miles ahead of your peers.  Get started now by downloading our Partner Selection Assessment Tool which will help you:


  1. Identify partner competencies most important to your business.
  2. Assess potential partners against each.
  3. Guide a conversation with your organization about using partners to reduce costly launch delays.


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Brian Waters

Provides clients strategic insight and support to uncover new revenue opportunities to help them make their number.

Brian is a marketing and customer experience leader who has grown revenue, profit and satisfaction as a practitioner and consultant.


Prior to joining SBI, he built the new B2B marketing function at Hilton that generated over $30 million in revenue in one year.


Earlier in his career he held multiple roles at The Walt Disney Company including leading experience planning for a portfolio of attraction, resort, retail and dining concepts to yield higher per-guest spending and satisfaction. In addition, Brian led brand and revenue marketing programs that increased attendance and hotel room-nights.


Areas of particular expertise and focus include marketing strategy, campaign planning, lead generation and management, branding, content planning, segmentation, digital planning, product marketing, account based marketing and organizational design.

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