By: Matthew Bagshaw on January 10th, 2019
8 Upsides to Long Term Technology Partnerships in Creative Operations
The benefits of working with a technology partner are well-known and extensive: lowering costs, reducing risk, gaining outside expertise, spinning up new projects quickly, and more.
Whether you’re installing a system for DAM, ERP, or PIM, successful tech refresh projects require a great deal of communication, collaboration, and mutual understanding. Given those conditions, a successful implementation is much more likely when you’re already in a long-term creative operations partnership.
Below, we’ll discuss 8 of the biggest advantages when you work with a long-term creative operations partner.
1. Easier Approval
Often, the most difficult phase of a project for both parties is the initial approval stage. Core teams on both sides are not yet acquainted, bridges of trust are just forming and, more importantly, the parameters for documenting and presenting the project vision are being negotiated for the first time.
Delays at this point because of inevitable clarifications, document amendments or rejigging presentations for slightly different audiences can take so much time that the initial project deadlines have already become untenable.
In a longer-term partnership, the deeper knowledge of processes, long term goals and organisational “personality” will get the project through approval and off the starting block a lot faster.
2. Fewer Misunderstandings
Although industries strive to standardise terminology, every organisation has its own set of preconceptions and nomenclature. When a partnership is new, each of these localised terms and meanings needs to be relearned - and even seemingly industry standard terminology should be consciously rechecked to ensure incorrect assumptions are not being made.
This all takes time and restricts your partner from making confident, accurate judgements independently. However, after this phase is over, your partner will be much less prone to subtle, terminology-based error and able to focus on the solution at hand.
3. Better Time and Cost Estimates
Organisations can have very different working practices, which can expand or contract the timeline for the same type of deliverable. For example, a particular company may need more rounds of testing, promote through more environments, or require higher levels of documentation.
Both sides of a creative operations partnership greatly benefit from accurate time and cost estimates. When your partner understands your needs, goals, staffing, and processes, you’ll be able to make better plans for future projects together.
4. Faster Deployment Speed
When you engage in a long-term creative operations partnership, problems get solved and features get deployed faster. For example, some situations might only need a single phone call to the right person rather than a full war-room response.
Further, as we all know, even the best-laid plans can go off the rails. Changes in the global business landscape, surrounding software systems or unexpected internal feedback can require a quick change of direction or generate additional requirements.
With an established set of working practices and a team that has had time to gel, you’ll both be ready to react.
5. Less Resistance to Operational Change
Many projects succeed or fail based solely on users’ first impressions. If the initial rollout group doesn’t like what you’ve developed, it will be very hard to change these opinions as users start to spread the word throughout the organisation.
Often, the first phase rollout involves the operational side of the business - which is often one of the most resistant to change, but also where you can realise great benefits with a successful implementation. Proposing changes through a partner with an established base of trust tends to ease the introduction of new processes and technology.
Then, during rollout, a partner familiar with users’ current needs, concerns, and level of expertise, can precisely customise training programs and smooth any bumps in the road to adoption.
All this makes it more likely to get through the critical introductory stage with a positive perception of the new software or process.
6. Early Identification of Pitfalls
It's important to always expect both internal and external conditions to shift during the course of the project. A critical piece of software might deprecate its functionality or introduce new features, or the external legal environment might change (as many companies experienced this year with GDPR).
A partner with which you have an ongoing relationship can anticipate and suggest appropriate strategies well ahead of time. An established team, thinking long-term and fully versed in operational context, is much more likely to spot issues in advance and fix them before they become real problems.
7. Healthier Working Relationship
Consultancy works best when it’s open and impartial. Tech partners shouldn’t be afraid to question the assertions and assumptions made by their clients, and vice versa. After all, the goal is unbiased assessment and optimised recommendations.
During the initial courtship period, both partners may find it difficult to challenge each other as robustly as they do once trust has been established. Clarity and honesty are critical when laying the groundwork for a successful implementation and the open opinions of a long term partner will lead to better solutions and reduced costs.
8. Greater Enjoyment
Long-term partnerships tend to become less formal and more relaxed over time. This creates a better working atmosphere and makes those involved happier in their day-to-day.
While this is a less tangible benefit than usual project metrics, the productivity benefits of decreasing stress levels shouldn’t be underestimated. The longer you work with a tech partner, the easier the road to delivery will be.
As we’ve just discussed, there are many benefits when working with a long-term partner in creative operations. Projects that are successful, relevant, well-planned, and well-executed are less risky, more satisfying, and at the heart of our mission as a company.
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