Today's blog post was written by Kyle Gerstner, Principal Architect at Sonoma Partners.
I've recently been working with two different clients who were both in a situation where the relationship with their current partner had soured. In listening to these clients, I was shocked to realize it took a final straw for them to start seeking a new partner. So many problems had happened throughout the relationship, but they had waited, trying to stick with it and work it out. As an outsider, I initially thought, what took them so long?
But the reality is – just like in our personal relationships – breaking up with your current CRM partner is hard.
The most obvious reason for this is money. At some point, you've invested so much money into the initiative with the partner, you just want your money's worth. The second is that now you feel jaded. How do you properly vet the new partner? You feel like you just got burned and are unsure of how to move forward. For help on that, we have some tips here.
Once you've made the decision to end the relationship with your current partner, there are a few things you should do to protect yourself:
- Don't let on right away that you are going to end the relationship. Letting them know can either change nothing or make the situation worse. Your current partner could just focus on salvaging the relationship or write you off and become unresponsive. Either of these two things will make the next steps harder, so its best to keep a lid on it.
- Get access to the codebase and ensure you are getting daily updates. Review the code internally, or if you have found a new partner, have them review it. Not having this could mean starting from scratch with your new partner. You also want to have assurances that the outgoing partner is staying above board as they roll off. Getting your new partner involved in the review helps ramp them up and drive the discussion for the next two points.
- Review your documentation. Determine what hasn't been done and what was changed. Update the documentation accordingly. This documentation will help you prioritize what needs to be done next. While its fairly easy to determine that a whole feature is missing, its harder to determine if the execution of the features was to spec. Once you have the documentation updated, this can also be used by your new partner to ramp up.
- Start asking questions. What tools are being used? What environments are setup? What servers are we using and what are they being used for? Has the partner used any of their own IP and who owns it? Your outgoing partner did all of that work FOR YOU. You should know all the ins and outs of what they are using in order to do that work. If they used something and you don't know about it, it may cause issues down the line. Also, use this as a way to track what they have access to, so you can turn of that access when they are gone.
- Once you've selected a new partner, let the old one know you are going to end the relationship. Schedule an end date and some knowledge transfer meetings. Ideally, get your new partner on these meetings. The goal is that these meetings will be fairly quick, because you have done steps 2-4, so there shouldn’t be too much more to learn. Your old partner may not agree to these and just want to let you go on your way, but you should be confident that you can.
It’s not easy to find the right partner, nor is it easy to end a bad relationship. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and help facilitate the transfer to your new partner.
And, as always, we’re here to help.