We view ourselves as “service providers” rather than “vendors.” It’s more than just semantics; it’s the way we approach our work. There are companies that simply sell a service.
So, what are the characteristics we look for in our service partners? (and also the standards by which we judge ourselves?)
Responsiveness. It’s more than just returning calls or emails quickly. It’s a mindset that puts the client’s interests and needs at the forefront. Are there ways you can make your processes fit more seamlessly? Can you try to anticipate needs or concerns and address (or preclude) them in advance?
Timeliness. Meeting deadlines is a given; setting them is the challenge. The key to successful project management is to identify critical touchpoints in the development cycle and make certain they’re clearly understood. The goal is to avoid crises, not to create them.
Continuity. Remember Ground Hog Day? No one needs that. While we expect more challenges on a first project, we try to learn from those how to make the second go more smoothly. And the next even more so. (And, if we bring other partners in, it’s our responsibility to pass that information on.)
Value. How do we add value? Organizations outsource because they need additional capacity, additional capabilities, or both. Capacity work is a commodity; capabilities keep clients. Good service providers work constantly to hone their capabilities.
Commitment. We try to see each project we do as a part of the client’s greater mission. Our job is not simply to complete the assignment, but to help accomplish that mission.
Responsibility. Call it professionalism. Ownership. Pride in your product. But call it yours. And stand behind it.
Honest. Positive. Sincere. Reliable. Trustrworthy. Well-intentioned. The list goes on.
The same characteristics you look for in a good person.
But then, it is a people business, isn’t it?