A while back we introduced a new approach to finding a business partner, which we equated to the process of hiring a key employee. Ultimately, you want to find a partner that fits the unique needs of your company and that you can build a lasting relationship with. I sat down with Compensation Advisor Julie Bingham to talk about her past experiences with the RFP process and share a few tips to keep in mind the next time you’re searching for a new business partner. Watch the video or read the transcript below.
Paul Ashley: Hello and welcome to the FirstPerson video blog. I'm Paul Ashley, Managing Director at FirstPerson, and today I'm joined by...
Julie Bingham: Julie Bingham, Compensation Advisor, FirstPerson.
Paul: Julie's also playing another role for us today. She is a recovering HR Benefits and Compensation Manager.
Julie: Absolutely. Paul: Tell us a little bit about that role you had. Julie: I have historically always been on the compensation side, had an opportunity to work at a publicly-owned organization as the Compensation and Benefits Manager. So, learned a lot along the way with the VP of HR, and absolutely learned a lot through the RFP process the first time I was the one leading it.
Paul: So that's what we're here to talk about today is how to select a great business partner. And the analogy we use is that selecting a great business partner as a vendor is like selecting or hiring a great, key employee. You'll see the opportunity to download this free resource, which is our toolkit on selecting a great business partner. We have a couple tips in there you'll be able to see, and I think the most important tip is defining the role. So, Julie, in your past, you had a great story you told me earlier about not selecting a partner, or you selected a great partner but you kinda had a clunky process. Tell me about that.
Julie: You know, we had sort of the classic RFP with a long list of questions. We put it out to a lot of partners and vendors, and I really just... that big ah-ha moment was when we realized two-thirds of all those questions we just put to the side. Maybe never read or really didn't make any decisions based on them. Just couldn't help but at the end of that process thinking, "Why did we do that do ourselves? Why did we do this to the prospective partners?" We really were able to narrow it down to the relationship, the team, the resources, the connection points, and why didn't we spend more time doing that versus asking questions that really didn't add value to the process.
Paul: Absolutely. So in our toolkit, you'll see a couple of key tips, and one of them is define the role. Really focus in on why you are going through this process, because it will dictate questions you do and do not ask. The next one is to source your network, because a lot of times people maybe will have a good process, but they'll cast an unbelievably wide net and wind up having to deal with some folks they don't actually want to talk to.
Julie: Absolutely, absolutely.
Paul: Last is conduct interviews. So we want to make sure there's a relational component to this. As you mentioned, who you're working with matters.
Julie: Absolutely. As well as the references. To your point, sourcing the network's important. It's one thing to be in an interview sort of situation, but really start to talk about what does the relationship feel like for other clients is incredibly meaningful.
Paul: Another one is evaluate the finalists. And what we're recommending is you somehow, and this can get a little difficult...you gotta be creative, but somehow incorporate in your process a way to see them in action. Doing the work, like a mini project or a sample. Bring a lot of samples forward. I think that's important. And last, make your selection. So our hope is that with a toolkit you'll be able to select better business partners. And this goes just beyond selecting people in the field that we're in. This is really for any external business partner, and we hope it's like selecting a great new key employee. Thanks for joining our video blog. We look forward to seeing you next month.