The need for striking thriving partnerships might be yesterday’s news in the world of financial technology. Yet, as the available cooperation models are continuously evolving to offer more tailored options, the final decision might pose a challenge. Potential savings in time and costs have to be carefully weighed against risks connected with the required credit of trust: a value of paramount importance, notably in FinTech applications. If reliability is an essential aspect of all collaborative efforts, is there a key to handling it the right way?

Why question reliability in business partnership?

Augmenting your development team remains one of the most convenient solutions in case of product refactoring, software emergency or short-term mobilization when launching premium features or exclusive ads-on. However, finding the right technology partner to ensure timely delivery and uncompromised quality isn’t always smooth sailing. The final selection requires in-depth research and complex analysis. To make this task more manageable, well-defined selection criteria should serve as guiding posts underlying all stages of the process.

With no guarantee that the final choice hits the mark, fine-tuning your vision can be the key to offering the best ROI and competitive advantage.

Trust being a priority, the question of reliability seems to come to the forefront of all search and compare activities, while keeping in sync with the best practices in risk management. Team augmentation gives leverage only if the staff supplied by the new partner perform as required. Making sure that they do can make all the difference in the long run and takes much more than wishful thinking.

Reliability offers an alternative to an ‘educated guess’ and serves as a measure of consistency.

In the modern FinTech environment, strategic decisions are made by teams rather than individuals. A reliability-first approach provides a data-led common ground and a measurable point of reference. This inevitably improves chances for an unbiased and successful selection.

Basic steps to mitigate risk

Create a shortlist

Keeping reliability in check usually starts with the customary due diligence. Search and compare efforts should result in a list of potential partners with verified legal standing, industry match and readily available references (e.g. Clutch). To further narrow down the list, you can look for a proven track record and analyse past successes and failures. Note that availability of such information might be a selection criterion in its own right.

Name your game

Once that first step is complete, you can target the fulfillment of essential contractual conditions. Those may vary depending on the company policy and project scope. They usually cover such matters as: e.g. facilities, equipment, technology stack, staff competences, additional licenses, reporting, intellectual property, warranty period, etc. Watch out for what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude. A serious provider should be able to adapt to your specific needs and allow for a buffer period to solve potential issues.

Get your money’s worth

When interacting with potential partners, check for focus on customer service experience. The quality of communication offered at the stage of prospecting can be a good indicator of what you can expect further down the line. Look for: active listening, willingness to negotiate and compromise, ability to openly discuss risks and provide constructive criticism. They are solid predictors of communication aptitude and adaptability of the organization.

Ultimate trust challenge

Making sure your newly augmented team does not go back on its word can feel like climbing the walls. Surprisingly enough, it’s not always the questions of technical competences or relevant experience. Compatibility in terms of work culture might turn out to be a deal-breaker, despite an impressive track record and a top-notch portfolio suggesting otherwise.

Watch out for:

  • leading on assumptions rather than facts
  • transparency deficit & mixed messages
  • generating more problems than solutions
  • inability to admit failure & learn from mistakes
  • ownership & liability issues

On the other hand, establishing strong compatibility requires honest soul-searching when evaluating own collaboration capacity. The clearer your vision, goals and purpose (topped off with the ability to communicate them), the bigger the chances that your team can understand and address them. The same applies to product ownership and/or project management competences.

Your success depends as much on your leadership skills as on your partner’s ability to deliver.

Fair balancing of tasks could become a focal point of managing bigger projects. The subtleties of day-to-day workload distribution can affect the overall efficiency of the augmented team and contribute to the decision of prolonging or ending your technology partnership. Similarly, when recognizing input and commitment, team leaders on both sides should replace attitudes like “divide and conquer” with “alone you go faster but together—we go further”.

Selected solutions for sceptics

Having made all the right noises in the initial stages of setting up a business partnership, you might further boost your chances for a rewarding cooperation with a few advanced options:

  • Contractual measures protect both parties from miscommunication traps and provide clear reference for project managers and strategists alike. They might include: communication and management principles, strategy and tools for tracking performance, warranted level of availability, quality assurance management, change management strategy.
  • Pilot project gives both organizations a chance to build trust, streamline workflows, introduce new technologies, pick and match team members and test the overall compatibility of the newly augmented team. If your business model allows for a more exploratory approach, you might even want to select two strongest IT service providers and do A/B testing over 3—6 months.
  • Test recruitment is a variation of the example above. It gives you an insight into the kind of competences, expertise and additional skills you might bring in your project development (without the obligation to sign the contract straight away). If you’re not convinced TA can work in your case but don’t want to miss out on great talent (and competitive rates) either, test recruitment might help sandbox your HR ideas.
  • Fine-tuned scoping + fixed price model helps pitching your staffing strategy to the Board. However, it calls for exceptional analytical and planning solutions to ensure both functional and non-functional requirements are crystal clear to all involved in development.

Wrapping up

Is the list above exhaustive? You bet… it’s not! Still, it might come in handy as a point of departure in negotiations and help assess the reliability factor when selecting prospective business partners. Both in life and business, fair-weather friends are the last thing you need. A well-calibrated reliability radar can help you not only steer clear of risky deals but also build diverse and motivated teams you can depend on.