How do you ensure a successful collaboration?
It's relationships. When you go into an organization, it's one of the first things you have to work on: your peer relationship and your relationships top down and in IT. For this project, I had to make sure my team understood the goals and make sure the UC SD team understood, too.
We took a one-team approach to this — you keep pushing until you see the people who are territorial start to drop their guard and work together. Of course, there are politics to it, but it's making sure everyone understands where the prize is.
You've talked about the need for CIOs to have strategic partnerships with vendors. Can you talk about that?
[CIOs] have a somewhat adversarial relationship with vendors even though we need them. A lot of CIOs lose sight of that and develop a real animosity toward vendors, which I get because we're bombarded by hundreds of vendors by email and phone calls. But it simplifies the CIO's job to have a small set of partners to manage rather than a wide variety of vendors.
A partnership with a select few helps you drive your organization forward, because they become thought leaders, people you can turn to whenever you have big projects. Some CIOs ask: 'How do you know you're getting the best price?' You can test it as you go along and keep the vendors from getting too comfortable with their position. But most vendors understand the importance of the partnership. And with my partners, I can call the CEO and get some action. That's comforting to know.
What do you look for in vendors as partners?
Cost, talent — it's all of that, but it's also the thought leadership they bring. They understand my organization, the challenges we face in our market and in our organization. They understand our strategy, and they're willing to be a part of moving us forward in a lost-cost high-value way. They are also willing to put skin in the game to do that.
You get the best and brightest people when they view you as a partner instead of when they feel they're competing with 10 other firms for a project. That's a huge benefit.
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