Solve Your "Problem Children" Challenge

Monday, 05 December 2011 06:30
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Many companies can find themselves dealing with external partners whose value-offering is strong but whose program management skills are lacking. When this creates issues, the company can question whether the "prize" is worth the hassle of dealing with them. Now, there are solutions to this challenge.

Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends....

Solve Your "Problem Children" Challenges

Certain vendor relationships can be vexing and exceptionally time consuming. Companies can have limited tolerance for this, especially in these lean times. Are there ways to effectively deal with these time drainers, versus simply jettisoning them?

Do you sometimes find yourself dealing with external partners with strong value offerings (e.g. technology, expertise), but inferior people and project management skills? These relationships can become burdensome and enormously time consuming, especially when the provider reveals him/herself to be difficult and/or high maintenance. In these instances, it is easy for the company to conclude, "It's not worth the trouble", and to dismiss the partner. While understandable and often appropriate, it is not always the best or even the wisest approach. In these instances, what options are available?

First, the customer should try to see if he/she can work through the challenge with the provider. Some useful tactics include:

seek to build rapport, if clear about expectations.focus on project objectives, not personalities. if necessary, break projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. communicate, communicate, communicate. be firm about commitments (and consequences).

If you simply lack the time or tolerance for this type of micromanagement, contact an experienced relationship manager like BFS Innovations to deal with your "problem children" on an ad hoc basis. As you might expect, it's not fun work, but it's a core competency of ours. Most importantly, it provides value for clients. The cost of this service is very reasonable.   
How does it work? I quickly get up to speed on the project and vendor history/issues, and then act as your proxy in dealing with the partner on a day-to-day basis. I join project calls and help ensure that during these meetings the vendor explicitly and efficiently addresses the client's needs and questions. Calls are more efficient and productive. 

Importantly, this approach works. As an example, an exasperated project leader from a large company called me to help manage a technology provider under contract with them. The provider's technology had strong appeal (which was the sole reason for desiring to maintain the relationship), but the day-to-day interactions were becoming overly time-consuming. They wanted me to deftly "micromanage" the provider to help produce the desired outcomes. In this role, I have been successful in helping to guide steady and timely progress without disruption.

Think of it as a respite for overtaxed corporate external innovation managers. Contact me if you have interest and care to discuss your challenge. 


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