After the Honeymoon: Building a Partnership

AirwolfhoundLet’s say you’ve signed a partnership or alliance contract with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). Now what?

It’s a great question. Often, we spend so much time making the match, as it were, we forget about all the work that it takes to actually partner effectively, and achieve the desired results.

Are you up to the task?  Do you have a plan?  Are you really ready to meld minds and get productive?

In my last post, Why Partner with D&B?, we looked at how to start a partnership conversation and how it could work for us and our customers. At D&B, we strongly believe that a healthy and profitable long-term partnership is built with openness and collaborative planning.

So in that spirit, here are five stages we work through as we form a working partnership. The goal? To find and engage with our counterparts, to work through any dissonance and agree on a process for sharing and meeting our respective goals.

Stage 1: Collaborative Discovery — We meet together to jointly identify key goals, such as:

  • Business and customer value
  • Features that make business and customer value a reality
  • Monetization opportunities

These meetings are also a chance to educate one another on our companies’ culture, processes, methodologies and operating standards. This work culminates when we draft an initial business case.

Stage 2: Collaborative Planning — We meet to review our respective documents and artifacts, including:

  • The terms of our partnership agreement
  • Use cases – Elaborate on each company’s vision of how a joint solution would be created and sold

We also start the work of creating new documents with input from both partners, including:

  • Business cases, including pricing, opportunity and cost/benefit analysis
  • A detailed design document
  • A user acceptance testing plan
  • A human resource sheet that includes a 1:1 resource map, where applicable, between the two companies
  • A schedule and implementation plan
  • Plans for risks, issues and communications
  • A transition plan that includes specifics about training, service-level agreements and customer care
  • The go-to-market plan

It is worth noting that a potential partner’s culture, processes, methodologies and operating standards will in most cases be very different from D&B’s. However, this does not become a barrier, because we spend time in the discovery step above to understand each other’s unique perspective.

Stage 3: Execute Collaborative Implementation Plan – During this stage, we start to execute against the implementation plan we created in Stage 2.

Stage 4: Execute Collaborative Go-to-Market Plan

Stage 5: Execute Collaborative Transition Plan

What do you think? Do other collaborative activities come to mind, now that you’ve read through my list? Write to tell me more, at

Image credit: Airwolfhound

Posted in AllianceNetwork, Strategic Partners by Kairo Cerere

Kairo Cerere is a Global Program Manager for D&B Global Partner Solutions

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