What is an Alliance? Wikipedia says it is a relationship among groups that have joined together to achieve a common goal. In the case of the Star Wars Rebel Alliance it is the gathering of the Delegation of 2000. They had the common goal of limiting the power of the Supreme Chancellor as the Clone Wars were coming to a close. But I digress.
An alliance that might matter to you if you happen not to love Star Wars for some reason, is the alliance between your key vendors. Take a glance around your datacenter and think about all of the different folks that are represented in those rows. If you’re lucky you may only have a couple strategic partners that you work with. You may have also decided that a little competition keeps things level and have a multitude of vendors that you have manage. Either way, they all should be the members of YOUR alliance. The common goal is to help your organization achieve its mission while adhering to your values.
So how do you start creating this alliance? If you’re lucky, the different teams at your varied vendors are already doing this on their own. If they’re not, it might be as simple as inviting them to a meeting and asking them to. It isn’t always a natural motion for them and frankly in many cases there may be overlap between product sets. All the more reason to get them in the same room to talk.
So how do you help ensure this alliance provides value to your organization? Once you have all of the right people in the room talking it is time for them to shift to listening. This is your turn to start talking and time for them to listen. You need to help your vendors understand what your key business initiatives are. Don’t hold back! You may not think that the recycling initiative matters to your vendors, but it just might. Lay it all out there for them. Let them know how you want to work with them. If there are chains of command and purchasing protocols that need to be followed, then put that information in their hands. Tell them how you work and then ask them how they work. Align along your goals and agree that this is how you will do business moving forward.
Rinse and repeat quarterly/monthly/weekly based on what works best for you.
Finally, let your alliance go to work on your behalf. They should all be coming back to the table with their vision of a solution to your business issues as a unified group. An alliance.