Best Practice Group on Problematic IT Projects – the Importance of Trust

We featured a report from consulting firm BPG a few weeks back, and we are coming back to it today. Best Practice Group (BPG) is a niche consulting firm, and they probably know more about why IT projects go wrong than anyone else we’ve come across. They have worked on trying to “save” a whole range of major IT contracts, and have a deep understanding of the issues, whether technical, legal or behavioural, that contribute to problems in this area.

The report is the latest in a series of useful good practice guides, and is an e-book really, called Problematic IT Project? It looks at the issues around major contracts, which could cover software development, systems integration or outsourcing. The guide is available here, free on registration.

So here is another short extract, which should give you a flavour of the guide. For anyone involved in major IT projects, in a procurement or indeed project management role, it is well worth a look. In this excerpt, BPG talk about the issue of trust in buyer: seller relationships, and why it matters so much.

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What is commercial trust?

Commercial trust is about on-the-ground behaviours on both sides. It exists when someone does what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it, in a reasonably consistent fashion.

For the battle-scarred project and contract managers among you, who have been on the wrong side of a relationship with a manipulative vendor, the concept of trust will be hard to accept. Based on some of the vendor relationships that we’ve been involved with, we would agree. What is clear is that manipulative behaviour won’t help you or your vendor to get to the business outcomes you need to achieve.

This means forcing yourself to take a step back, particularly if you are more experienced in dealing with vendor relationships. Building trust works, if it’s done correctly. It’s important to note, however, that commercial trust is not a substitute for expertise in contract management. The two go hand in hand. Commercial trust encourages the right behaviours, so you achieve the maximum from a well-managed contract.

Why does commercial trust matter so much in IT vendor relationships?

In our experience, commercial trust powerfully affects an organisation’s reputation, its ability to partner and collaborate with others, its capacity to innovate, its ability to attract, retain and engage great people, and the speed at which it can execute all these aspects of success, plus many more.

Thought leaders that deal with complex vendor relationships now understand that implementing and practising commercial trust is a major currency in its own right. It is fast becoming a fundamental basis upon which people start, or continue, strategic relationships.

Strong commercial trust between the client and vendor drives the risk-taking that leads to progress in IT vendor relationships. When trust rises, the speed of achieving benefits goes up and costs go down. People are able to communicate faster, collaborate better and do business more quickly and efficiently.

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