Whilst many organisations like to see themselves as true partners; most are simply suppliers in the eyes of their customers. A partnership is something that must be earned through providing value, then continually fostered. It requires honest and open communication by both parties.

What’s the difference

A supplier is an organisation that provides a product or service for a specific timeframe. Once delivered, the business relationship effectively ends.

On the other hand, a partner organisation has tailored its product or service to meet your needs and takes a share of ownership in your risks and rewards.

Not every relationship, however, needs to be a true partnership. For example, purchasing commoditised goods like office supplies need not be a true partnership; pick the supplier with the best price on the day.

However, you would want a partner that understands your business and stands to gain from your success with your legal advice, and you would select a firm ready to invest time and resources to that aim.

The components of true partnership

When I reflect on what makes a great partnership, the one factor is that both parties go above and beyond the contract terms. The best partners display the following attributes:

  • There is a mutual understanding of each other’s goals, and they are respected.
  • There is open, honest and respectful communication.
  • Their people are viewed as an extension of your team.
  • They look at issues long term and are continually improving and investing in the partnership.
  • Sharing common goals and rewards.
  • They offer solutions, not just problems.
  • They are transparent with their processes, procedures and wisdom.
  • They are prepared to help you when necessary, even when it might not help them in the short term.
  • There is two-way, honest feedback.

What does this mean with a digital partner?

At Etica, we take the time to understand your business, your goals, your pain points and what you expect from us. This initial stage is like a first date; we need to ensure it’s a good fit. Of course, not everyone suits everyone; it’s just how the world is; it’d be pretty dull otherwise.

A partner should never, in my opinion, be driven simply by a price point from inception. You need to step/guide clients through the entire process, tailoring it to fit their needs. When constructing a team, or presenting a single resource, in addition to assuring their technical skills, it’s imperative to make sure that they will fit your culture, processes and methodologies. These steps should be non-negotiable; we deem them essential to the long-term relationships and trust you enjoy with clients.


A genuine partnership is a two-way process and cannot be taken for granted in business today. To succeed, you need to constantly invest time and effort into them and always look for ways to add additional value. If you a looking for a digital delivery partner, contact Etica today.

Simon Hammond

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