Can a client-supplier relationship go much further than a standard, transactional experience? Is it possible to elevate these relationships to genuine, trusted partnerships, where the two parties collaborate with shared enthusiasm and commitment to achieving mutual goals?
At Mission Translate, we know it’s possible because we’ve experienced it. And we’ve also seen the substantial benefits it provides for both parties when the initial effort is put into making these partnerships a reality.
This blog is based on a presentation we shared at Quirks London 2021, where our non-executive director, Danny Russell, revealed the benefits of these genuine, trusted partnerships and our exclusive model we’ve developed to help achieve them.
At Mission Translate, we’ve seen how building closer working client-supplier relationships, which we refer to as genuine, trusted partnerships, can deliver significant benefits in terms of improved:
Our anecdotal evidence has also been backed up by leading industry research.
Referring to the development of genuine, trusted partnerships as ‘Supplier Relationship Management’, PwC reported that ‘more efficient processes’ was the most commonly cited benefit by the respondents in their survey who engaged in this approach.
In their 2020 insight report, ‘Taking supplier collaboration to the next level’, McKinsey reported that when buyers and suppliers are willing and able to cooperate, they can often find ways to unlock significant new sources of value that benefit them both.
Their survey of more than 100 large organisations from various sectors revealed that businesses, which engaged in advanced collaboration with their suppliers, demonstrated higher growth, lower operating costs, and greater profitability than their industry peers.
Finally, when reviewing employee satisfaction, the Harvard Business Review describes how having control over performance, where an employee can do their job because prior tasks have been successfully completed and sufficient resources are in place, enhances morale and prevents frustration.
The STABLE model
Based on our experience developing these genuine, trusted partnerships with our clients, we have created the STABLE model. It consists of six key elements, which we believe are critical in elevating your client-supplier relationships and enjoying the three benefits of improved efficiency, growth and morale.
From the very early beginnings of a client-supplier relationship, it is critical to agree in writing the service delivery expectations, key performance metrics, and progress evaluation to create a form of organisational governance.
Service-level agreements (SLA) can only be created following in-depth consultation and exploration of a client’s needs and challenges. For this process, it is worth making sure all necessary stakeholders are at the ‘round table’ to define what makes up the SLA.
The SLA forms the foundation of the partnership, upon which all processes can be built to optimise the relationship’s benefits.
Tech integration refers to the seamless assimilation of both parties’ technology. This integration may include client portals, file-sharing platforms or content management systems. A supplier should be willing to integrate the client’s tools and processes into theirs, as part of their role as a genuine, trusted partner is to make the client’s life easier.
At Mission Translate, we have a number of key technologies, which we integrate with our clients’ platforms to add value.
An example includes our client-secure platform MTHub, which:
- integrates with clients’ CRMs or project management tools
- enables centralised management of projects and communication
- improves efficiency, convenience and reduces error
Another main area of digital innovation in our industry is translation technology, which is moving fast at the moment and is delivering many exciting benefits in terms of cost, time and consistency. We leverage this new cutting-edge technology, alongside the work of our professional translators, to pass on these benefits to our clients.
Crucially, all stakeholders should feel confident in using the integrated tech to enhance their performance, so training should be offered if required.
Attitude is a fundamental point in the STABLE model, as it all starts with attitude and what a supplier is prepared to do to align with a client’s way of working and their goals.
From our experience, having the right attitude for nurturing a genuine, trusted partnership means a supplier has:
- A willingness and ability to adapt to a client’s processes, timelines and tech
- A preparedness to deal with changes, short notice requests etc.
- Honesty & transparency about their capabilities and challenges
- Solidarity, like part of the client’s in-house team, in working to overcome challenges and find solutions
- An appreciation of the impact of their work and its knock-on effects
- A sense of responsibility and the dedication that is required to support the achievement of a client’s objectives
- Made the client’s goals shared goals and is as committed to achieving them as the client
Clients need to be aware of suppliers who promise the earth just to win the business, then fail to live up to expectations. To test the substance of these promises, we recommend that clients ask for real-world examples that demonstrate what steps potential suppliers are prepared to take and how far they will go to deliver what’s needed.
Briefing and Communication
A successful relationship of any kind is based on good communication.
Clients and suppliers need to agree on what constitutes a full briefing process to fulfil project requirements. They should also establish suitable communication protocols to ensure smooth collaboration and to support the development of a genuine, trusted partnership.
When determining briefing and communication protocols, we have found the following to be beneficial:
- Putting in place communication agreements from the outset
- Being meticulous with every detail of the briefing process – fundamental to successful project delivery
- Using written briefing templates and checklists
- Using phone calls for clarity
- Agreeing prompt response times
- Providing progress updates, as a matter of course, to enable full visibility at all times.
Ultimately, ensuring clear, transparent and regular communication will support seamless delivery of work and a high-quality end result.
A genuine, trusted partnership is a collaborative process based upon feedback – listening, learning and implementing.
We’ve found that, if the procurement process allows, trial periods are ideal for enabling clients to experience service delivery and provide feedback on how it can be tailored to meet their needs. A supplier’s willingness to listen to and implement feedback as quickly as possible is a key indicator in building a genuine, trusted partnership.
The learning process is also facilitated by having:
- An assigned account manager, as a dedicated point of contact
- A regular and agreed feedback process
Learning is bi-directional too. Outsourced suppliers are experts in their field and can help their clients develop solutions to their challenges. By treating them as a part of their team, clients can learn from them, growing and developing their own processes, products and services.
A shared rapport, involvement and expectation from start to finish of projects will ensure suppliers are quickly in-step with their clients’ delivery requirements and are in a position to help optimise the end result.
Many businesses don’t even consider the idea of a genuine, trusted partnership and live with just a transactional experience with their suppliers – perhaps they don’t realise that it’s possible, so don’t seek it out.
A change in mindset will bring multiple benefits. Start with that elevated expectation – the one which creates genuine, trusted partnerships.
We’ve witnessed that when clients see the potential of this new and elevated partnership and the benefits it can offer, they are excited!
This model encourages you to demand more from your suppliers and not settle for a second-rate service, which we’ve seen a surprising number of clients do. Seek out a partner who will go the extra mile to support you towards your goals and get ahead of the competition that makes this oversight.
Case Study: Ivy Exec
To illustrate how our STABLE model can elevate supplier relationships to genuine, trusted partnerships, we spoke to William Powell, VP of Market Insights & Strategic Partnerships at Ivy Exec.
In the video below, William explains how Mission Translate and Ivy Exec developed a genuine, trusted partnership, using our STABLE model, and how it supported improved efficiency, growth and morale for his business.
Please click on the image below to watch.
Many clients do not realise that they could be getting more from their supplier relationships. And they are missing out on numerous benefits, such as increased efficiency, growth and morale. Implement the steps from our STABLE model and discover how your business can benefit from creating genuine, trusted partnerships with your suppliers.
If you are seeking a language or research partner, who is willing to implement these steps and is dedicated to supporting you in achieving your goals, please get in touch with our team.