Today on Freaky Friday: A new relationship? I just broke up…

And here we are again: the next project is coming. And apart from loads of contract details, technical outlines and timetables the parties need to make a decision that normally is not on the agenda: how will the future relationship be? Will it be customer to service provider / supplier? Will it be longterm? How will the dependency be? Sounds like an easy decision to you?

The bad thing here is that it’s only easy if you have projects of a very limited complexity. Than something like: plan, realize and go on works. If the projects reach a certain level of complexity the simple relationships turns into something that is rarely seen by customers or agencies. An undefined partnership develops and deepens (and you normally do not fall in love…). Even if no one speaks about a partnership, it is there. To stay. And it’s not as easy to break up like the last time with your former girlfriend!

And as most of us know: partnership and relationships are not always happy and fun. But it’s hard to split – even if the situation hurts. It only stays simple to change the partner if it can be done without critical impact. That impact usually is money. So the question here is: what will it cost to split up and change the partner? And what are the benefits?

But where does it come from? I you walk to your super market and buy milk it’s also customer / supplier transaction. But a pretty simple, well defined one. You know what you get and from who you but it for the given price. If you don’t like that package, you simply move on to another super market, where it’s cheaper or the personnel is more friendly. But in ecom projects you have complex requests from the customer, a lot company specific demands. They are covered with the specific agency know how on how to implement this. No easy change of partners any more – or you loose all this specific know how and start all over again. Also the cost of establishing a new agency, making new plans, developing a common language etc. are often underestimated. The deeper and longer the relationsship it there, the bigger the dependencies are.

If the partners consciously embrace the relationship and develop it carefully they can have a huge advantage. Problems can be solved together without the common culture of pointing at the bad guy. Also the solving of problems can get in focus and not the covering of your ass (which usually comes first). The benefits can also be a long time planning and perspective for all parties, that can lead to better business development. So embracing partnerships can mean to save/make money!

But if the parties just see themselves in a customer / supplier relationship and are bonded together, problems are likely to occur. The reason for this is simple, since the parties will pretty sure use pressure to force developments. Covering your ass is in focus not problem solving and perspective is short term since you can be kicked at any time.

So think about your partnerships and choose wisely which ones to develop. Be sure that the parter fits to you. Then embrace partnership and don’t forget to work on it! And then live happily ever after…

2 Responses to Today on Freaky Friday: A new relationship? I just broke up…

  1. Kai, as you know too well, this it what I “pray” since we first met :)

    I totally sign that, couldn’t have written it better. It is daily work to keep the level of being a partner and not just a supplier, work which pays off for all sides and is fun, by the way, if done not only by using your brain, but your heart.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. PM Hut says:

    Hi Alexander,

    I like how you examined this whole topic, perceiving projects as women with whom you can have a relationship or your can break up with.

    I would love to republish your post above on PM Hut ( ), as I’m sure fellow project managers will enjoy it. Please either email me or contact me through the “Contact Us” form on PM Hut in case you’re OK with the republishing.

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