As you are planning for the start of a new year, it may be time to consider bringing on an outside partner or switching to a new one, to help facilitate your 2017 strategic growth plans. As you consider options for a strategic growth partner, there are a variety of factors to consider.
Should you go with a software platform? A consulting firm or services team? Should you keep things simple and go with the partner who could do a little bit of everything, but may not specialize in any one area? Should you hire the company with the fancy website? Or perhaps you could choose a provider that offers just the niche you need.
Ultimately, your best choice depends on your system’s unique needs; but if you find yourself noticing any of the following things as you walk through the evaluation process with a new partner, take note, as it could be a warning sign for a less-than-stellar partnership down the line. Any one of these issues could lead to costly consequences and pitfalls that may not seem important early on but can cause big problems for your health system as the relationship progresses.
Lack of Communication. You’re making data-based decisions because you want your plans to be logical and fact-based, but there’s also a human element involved as you engage an outside team. If the consultant or growth partner you’ve hired doesn’t communicate well with your team, then there will be problems ahead. It’s important to make sure you choose a partner who sees the importance of keeping your team in the loop, onboard, and educated throughout their processes.
While you want your growth partner to carry the weight of execution, you don’t want someone who intends to keep you dependent on them for years to come, hence keeping you in the dark on important details. Look for a partner who’s willing to share knowledge and guide your team, empowering your team with as much insight and direction as possible so you have full control over the direction and development of your plans.
The One-Size-Fits-All Solution. It can be tempting to choose the outside partner who seems capable of doing a whole lot of everything. How appealing does it sound to consolidate vendors and sign ONE contract for 5-10 solutions? Even if that one partner doesn't really specialize in the area where you need help if they are knowledgeable enough and have a lot of other offerings too; it should work out okay, right? Likely not.
From the onset, it may seem like there will be simplicity in engaging with only one partner rather than having to juggle several outside groups with specialized offerings. But tread carefully with this one. Keep your priorities and your main needs top of mind throughout your negotiation process. Make sure that your partner has total mastery over the growth areas where you intend to focus, not just a broad knowledge base that allows them to claim expertise in multiple areas. The appeal of having a single outside partner will quickly fade when that partner falls short in helping you execute your specific growth efforts.
The Quick, Short-Term Answer. As with any area of life, if something seems too good to be true, it likely is. When choosing a strategic growth partner, look for one offering long-term, sustainable results. Do they have a proven track record of being able to grow and adapt to the needs of the healthcare organizations they serve? Or do you instead note a history of short-lived partnerships and broken relationships? Ask to speak with an organization they currently work with to get insight into the day-to-day experience of working with the prospective partner; feedback from someone else who has walked in your shoes is the best way to learn about a vendor.
Be wary of the partner promising to exceed your every goal in record time and be careful that you aren’t so focused on the time constraints surrounding a particular goal that you opt for a partner who simply provides a quick fix. Look for a partner who will help your team and organization perform better over the long-run rather than someone who may be offering a more short-sighted solution. Lastly, make sure to address the conversation of how your outside partner can scale to meet your needs as time goes on.
Unclear Pricing. While there are many factors to consider when choosing a strategic growth partner, at the end of the day, it may come down to cost. Be sure that you know what you’re getting into up front. It’s always best to work with someone who is committed to transparency when it comes to how much you’ll be paying for their services. This will allow you to better estimate the ROI and more accurately budget for the partnership. Be wary of hourly fees, which can easily balloon past initial projections or other complicated fee structures that make it difficult to determine what the total cost to your organization will be.
When selecting a strategic growth partner, you’re making an investment in your hospital or health system’s future. This means that you have to keep long-term returns and goals in mind. Avoid the pitfalls discussed above in order to pave the way for ongoing growth with a partner who has your system’s best interest in mind. If you are sure to look for clarity in pricing and processes, solid communication capabilities, a partner with the right strengths, and a commitment to sustainable solutions, you’ll be well on your way to a happy, productive growth partnership.
Contact Stratasan for more information about we can help you execute your annual strategic growth plan.
Article by Taylor Smith, Senior Health Strategist