Look for suppliers that have similar company values to your own. If you have trust and integrity, then nothing else matters – if you don’t, then nothing else matters.

A company’s culture is the invisible fabric that binds its employees together. It defines an organisation’s values and aligns everyone with a set of common objectives. This culture will support its people without removing their ability to innovate and be creative. It will influence the employees they already have and those that they recruit in the future.

When people truly understand and buy into their company values, they feel empowered and confident to make decisions. They are able to act without constantly waiting for approval from a ‘higher authority’. You cannot buy a set of company values and you cannot easily copy someone else. You need strong leadership to deliver and maintain your vision – people who concentrate on identifying and developing each employee’s potential.

The way you act, as an organisation, will affect how your customers perceive you. Equally, it should influence the suppliers that you choose to work with.

Your supplier’s company values

When looking for a software development partner, aim to uncover the company’s culture. Look into their company values; the principles that guide their actions and beliefs. Do they align with your own beliefs and what you are trying to achieve? For example, you may want a supplier that is eager to learn and be prepared to challenge, rather than someone that simply agrees with everything you say.

A good working relationship relies on both parties having a similar ethos and mutual trust. Work on building a partnership rather than a client/supplier relationship that’s bound only by a contract. A win-win mentality from both sides will help to avoid a blame culture when problems occur.

There is no such thing as healthy competition within a knowledge organisation.Tom DeMarco

You may have multiple suppliers and need different companies to work closely together. People should be eager to share what they know with their colleagues and work associates. Ideally you want to create an environment where everyone learns from each other.

As Tom DeMarco states, “There is no such thing as healthy competition within a knowledge organisation”. Single points of failure start to emerge when people do not share information. Close collaboration is difficult to achieve if your suppliers feel they are competing directly with each other. Vendors who promote transparency and trust as part of their values will help to avoid information silos. Look for these qualities if you are working with more than one organisation.

Recruitment and development

In technology-based companies, smart and determined people are the greatest asset. Success depends largely on attracting and recruiting the right people into a business. Once the right people are on board, keeping them happy and motivated is equally important. A strong company culture will help to achieve each of these goals.

Better to train your people and risk they leave, than do nothing and risk they stay.anonymous

Understand how your suppliers recruit new employees. What support and training will they receive once they are on board? The best way to do this is during a site visit where you can speak directly with your supplier’s staff members.

If your suppliers hire the right people and keep them happy, it will increase the value you receive from them. Equally, happy people are more likely to be motivated and committed to the work they are doing. In turn, this leads to a lower staff turnover – with a corresponding decrease in the cost of attrition.

Clients and suppliers should have common goals and shared beliefs. Don’t rely on clever marketing and testimonials to find the right company to work with. In software development, technical excellence is a valuable asset but without trust and integrity, nothing else matters.