Today, the topic I want to talk about is the management of our partners, and to be more precise, an easy system to manage their performance on a measurable and clean way using an evaluation of them.

It's clear that everybody has it's own way to manage partners, and it's clear to that sometimes it's not easy to let aside our character, our day by day relation, and that can affect our relation with our partners.

Here I see two typical bad situations:
1. we have a great relation with a partner, but companies are not perfect, so sometimes we try to avoid their mistakes to keep the friendship and the good relation going on... In that way, down the road you'll find yourself yelling at them on a tough meeting with a lot of small mistakes that kept lowering their performance. At the end your own performance is affected from the point of view of your clients.
2. we don't have a good relationship with the provider. It's not bad, but there is a lot of small things that you'll change of their attitude that give you a poor overall satisfaction. In this situation, a meeting can become on a personal fight. At the end of the meeting the things are worse than at the beginning, so the relation get worse even more.

In both cases (I'm missing the honeymoon case and the bloody one) you need a new channel of comunication to:
1. Show things that you don't like of their work without hurting them 2. Create new bridges on the relationship on things that they are doing well or great

The system I'm using it's easy, and it's based on the following steps:
1. Define a questionnaire with 30 questions top, where the diferent roles on the relationship are involved. Here i'm thinking on tecnical staff, you, other managers, or even the clients of your services if the performance of the partner afect directly our clients. We'll talk about the content later 2. Evaluate the performance 3. Meet the provider with the result. Here you have to point out the worse areas and the best, creating this new communicarion channel.
You'll find that it's easier if you check an evaluation made by a group, and if you point out also their strengths.
4. Repeat the evaluation after 6 months and compare the results

Now let's talk about the questionare. In my organiztion, i've created a questionare based on 20 questions, grouped on the following areas:
technical skills, release, quality and management. Following you can see an example questionare to give you some ideas:

Technical aspects

TC P073TC001  Knowledgeof the solution 
TC P073TC002  Availability of technical staff 
TC P073TC006  Staff errors during service 
TC P073TC004  Cleansiness at work 
TC P073TC005  Knowledge of technical environment of the project 
QL P073QL007  Incident prevention 
QL P073QL002  Quañity of documentation 
QL P073QL003  Planned downtimes as scheduled 
QL P073QL004  Incidents on related services due to errors of the staff 
QL P073QL005  Minimize number of planned downtimes 
QL P073QL006  Record of petitions using company tools  
EN P073EN004  Issue resolution acording to SLA  
EN P073EN005  Petition resolution acording to SLA 
EN P073EN006  Technical evaluation lof RFCs on time 
Planning and managemet     
PL P073PL001  Fluid communication with the partner 
PL P073PL002  Management of the service acording to needs 
PL P073PL003  Delivery of new ideas on improvement projects 
PL P073PL004  Risk assesment correct 
PL P073PL005  Adaptation to company needs and changes 
PL P073PL006  Resource delivery acording to needs 

If you take a look at the example, notice also that i'm using a numeric code for the supplier, extracted from my ERP system for later analysis using a BI tool, and i'm writing down the procurement total amount to compare providers based on the size of their contract. That give you a new perspective: if you compare the behaviour of the partners by size of the contracts maybe you can see problems common by size (their problems or yours if you see a pattern by's not always a problem ofsomeone else ;) )

This same idea can be used to evaluate a provider at the end of a project, so you can collect benchmarking information about your usual suppliers, having background information for future projects.

This methodology will give you a systematic way to evaluate despite the current relationship in a way that can help you increase their performance and at the end yours

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