Developing a Partner Program, pt 4: Implementing the Program
Implementing a partner program is not easy. There are a lot of stakeholders and a lot of moving parts. While you may be excited to get things going, it’s important not to rush. Rushing leads to mistakes. Make realistic timelines for each task and roll out the program progressively, in stages.
Use a Project Management Tool
Email is great. Excel is also great. However, for complex projects they have limitations that should not be ignored. Emails get lost, ignored, accidentally deleted, and even sent to spam. Excel spreadsheets are also really great for certain tasks, but only one person can edit them at a time and it’s hard for teams to keep them up to date in real time.
A project management tool is an important investment. Project management tools allow teams, even those spread across different departments or offices, stay up to date on everything that’s happening in the project in real time. Web-based tools like Wrike or Basecamp also allow access from anywhere, so you can even travel freely without worrying about losing visibility.
Additionally, project management tools automatically send out reminders about tasks to the assigned person(s). That means no more trying to remember every little detail about who needs to do what and what’s due when. It’s all done for you! You can also use commenting features to chat about specific tasks, involving all of the people on that task immediately, without trying to figure out who needs to be included or accidentally forgetting someone. The comments go directly to their email so they don’t have to check the tool for comments constantly. As an added bonus, most tools integrate directly with your email platform of choice, so you can respond without even leaving your email! Communication is key to success, and project management tools keep it simple.
Choose a Tool that Supports Your Project
There are many tools to choose from, so choosing the project management tool that will work best for your project may seem daunting. But, it doesn’t have to be. The main thing you need to focus on is core functionality. Projects with tasks that require multiple players and a lot of progressive steps that rely on each other for completion require programs with dependencies and Gantt charts, like Wrike.
For simpler endeavors, programs like Basecamp or Trello may fulfill your needs. While they have less complex functionality and don’t offer beautiful timeline views, Gantt charts, or resource allocation, they do allow you to create to-dos, upload files, send messages, develop schedules, and monitor milestones.
Create a regular meeting schedule
As we said before, communication is key. Even with a solid project management tool, regular check-in meetings are crucial. These meetings allow you to touch base with the different team leads and discuss the project in a holistic way.
Meetings also give you an opportunity to really understand how the project is progressing. Perhaps there have been some hiccups with coding or a vendor hasn’t delivered some designs on time. Maybe one of the team members is overloaded and needs additional help.
In-person meetings help you level-set. In person meetings bring the human aspect into work – email is cold and detached, and you may not feel comfortable talking about certain issues through email for fear of how they could be perceived.
Make sure you have time to test
This cannot be stressed enough. Trying to operate on a timeline that’s too accelerated means you’ll set your team up for failure. When implementing a partner program, adequate time needs to be set aside for program development and testing.
Testing is the most important part of developing anything. Testing is where you find out what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not working. What’s not working will make or break your program.
Think that’s too dramatic? Remember in The Martian when they didn’t do the testing on the rocket that was supposed to deliver food to Matt Damon? Matt Damon almost starved to death because they didn’t test. The rocket broke. Don’t let your partner program starve to death on Mars because you didn’t think testing was important.
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