When we are asked to realign a complex service delivery relationship, we often find that each stakeholder has a slightly different definition of what a ‘strategy’ should look like. The most effective way to think of a strategy is as the high-level plan to mobilise and implement the resources required to achieve clear business objectives, that in turn, align with the business vision.
What Should a Sound Business Strategy Contain?
The strategy will usually re-emphasise the high-level summary of the vision and objectives that the organisation is seeking to achieve. This is to remind the stakeholders of what alignment needs to take place during the mobilisation and implementation process.
A good business strategy should also include:
- Quantification of the objectives/outcomes to be achieved
- Specific actions necessary to implement those objectives/outcomes
- The people resources (time, skills and expertise) necessary to achieve the objectives/outcomes
- The investment required at each stage and how that investment will be facilitated.
Your Business Strategy Should Contain the ‘What’ (outcomes) but not the ‘How’
It’s important when considering your strategic plan, to delineate where you are going out to market to outsource or commission services that in themselves are contracted for the delivery of business objectives or outcomes, as opposed to simply providing transactional support services for a transactional fee. If it is the former, then you shouldn’t be doing the service provider’s job for them by dictating ‘how’ they should go about delivering their services and compiling a strategy on that basis. You will compromise their ‘expert responsibilities’ and your contractual protections by doing so.
The Role of Your Supplier
In this former case, it would normally be the service provider’s responsibility to design and construct an explicit delivery strategy aligned to your organisational vision and business objectives. However, it would be appropriate for the provider to seek extensive input from you on their delivery strategy so that you understand it and can offer a critical–friend challenge on its assumptions.
Maintain Clarity Around Your and Your Supplier’s Responsibilities and Accountability
It is important to note that it is not for you to ‘sign off’ the provider’s delivery strategy, as this can inadvertently remove their accountability to achieve your business objectives. You should only be acknowledging what the provider is telling you it is going to do and how it is going to do it. You only want visibility of the strategy so you understand it. It is for the provider to validate whether its delivery strategy will work and will be fit for its intended purpose to achieve the business outcomes and objectives you have determined and communicated to it.