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4 Mistakes to Avoid When Working With External Partners on Projects

Successful collaboration with external partners is essential for the success of many projects. Whether you’re a business owner or a project manager, investing in external partners can yield invaluable results for your project. However, the rewards of external partnerships can come at a cost if these relationships are not managed well.

Mishandling partnership initiatives can result in project delays, miscommunications, and disappointing outcomes. To ensure your project runs smoothly, avoiding some common mistakes is important. This post will discuss four of the most common mistakes to avoid when working with external partners on projects.

1. Poor Planning

When it comes to successfully executing any project, investing in proper planning ahead of time is crucial. Failure to plan accordingly can derail a project before it gets off the ground. This can result in costly delays and frustration for everyone involved. Therefore, it is important to take the time to evaluate every aspect of your project and identify potential roadblocks in advance.

One effective way to plan ahead is to break down the project into smaller, more manageable goals. This enables you to focus more closely on each aspect of the project and identify areas that may require further attention or resources. Additionally, ensure your external partners are included in the planning process, as they can provide valuable insights and expertise that may not be readily apparent from an internal standpoint.

Another important factor to take into consideration when planning ahead is your timeline. You should allocate enough time to each project stage, ensuring your external partners have enough time to contribute their input. This enables you to maintain a healthy collaboration and prevent the risk of missed deadlines, which can result in costly delays.

Taking the time to plan can mean the difference between a successful project and a failed one. Planning ahead allows you to proactively identify issues before they become problematic, leading to better collaboration with your external partners and ultimately delivering a successful project.

2. Lack of Communication

Clear and open communication is an essential ingredient in any successful project. One of the most common mistakes during a collaborative project with external partners is a lack of clear and regular communication. This can result in confusion, delays, and missed deadlines.

To avoid running headfirst into a disaster, it's important to set clear expectations for everyone involved in the project. This includes establishing routine communication channels and providing regular updates on progress, expected outcomes, and plan changes. When everyone involved in the project is on the same page, minimizing misunderstandings, alleviating potential conflicts, and maintaining a productive and positive working environment are much easier.

In addition, it's important to ensure everyone involved in the project knows their respective roles and responsibilities. Communicating clearly about what is expected of each person leaves less room for confusion or misunderstandings, which can lead to frustration and delays.

Regular communication allows everyone to stay informed and keep things moving forward positively. This can be achieved through regular project meetings, shared project management software, or virtual communication tools such as messaging apps or conference calls.

A lack of clear communication can severely impact project outcomes and team morale. It's crucial to establish open lines of communication and maintain them throughout the duration of the project to ensure that everyone is on the same page, expectations are clear, and potential issues are addressed in a timely manner.

3. Unclear Expectations

Clear expectations are a vital part of any successful project. Without clear expectations, misunderstandings and confusion can arise, leading to a lack of direction and improper execution.

To prevent such issues, establish clear expectations from the project's outset. These expectations should be communicated in detail so that everyone involved clearly understands their roles and responsibilities. This includes defining the project's specific project objectives, timelines, deliverables, and quality standards.

Taking the time to clarify expectations up front ensures that everyone involved in the project understands what is required of them. This minimizes the risk of misunderstandings and allows each person to focus on their specific responsibilities and deliverables.

One effective strategy to clarify expectations is to create a project charter that outlines the expected outcomes, timelines, milestones, and responsibilities for all stakeholders. This project charter should be shared with all external partners early on in the project timeline so that everyone has ample opportunity to review and provide feedback.

Furthermore, don't rely solely on written communication to convey expectations. Instead, schedule regular meetings or calls with stakeholders to check progress, answer questions, and share updates. This will ensure everyone remains in the loop and provide opportunities to address any concerns or issues.

Clear expectations are the foundation of any successful project collaboration. By defining project objectives, timelines, deliverables, and quality standards in detail and maintaining open communication throughout the project, you can avoid misunderstandings and ensure the success of your collaboration with external partners.

4. Not Exploring All Options

As important as it is to establish a clear direction for a project, sometimes initial solutions may not be ideal or efficient. Rushing to settle for the first solution discovered is a common mistake that can lead to less innovation and less satisfactory outcomes.

To avoid limitations brought about by accepting single solutions, be sure to explore all possible available options before settling on a plan of action. Take time to analyze the situation, consider different perspectives, brainstorm creatively, and, if necessary, conduct research to inform decision-making.

Once a collection of options is identified, work collaboratively with your external partners to evaluate each and select the most suitable ones for the project. Solicit feedback from multiple stakeholders to gain a breadth of perspective and inform your selection process.

When considering various options, be sure to evaluate them based on factors such as feasibility, impact, return on investment, and risk management. This objective evaluation will help you identify which options are most critical and which should be prioritized during decision-making.

Remember, exploring multiple options allows external partners to brainstorm new concepts that were not imagined before, which can lead to innovative solutions. In most cases, effective collaborations result from multiple iterations and the ability to pivot when roadblocks arise. With the right collaborative spirit, trying and failing becomes an opportunity for exploration rather than a dead end.

Evaluating available options and working closely with external partners to make the best selections for your project is critical. Avoid settling for the first solution, as it may lead to a lack of innovation and sub-optimal outcomes. By taking a collaborative approach and evaluating various options, you can maximize the creativity and effectiveness of your partnership with external partners.

Maximize Strategic Partnerships for Project Success

Outsourcing or collaborating with external partners can bring much value to organizations regarding resources, expertise, and time efficiency. By partnering with the right external parties, companies can leverage their competencies and experience to execute a project successfully. Working with external partners widens the range of perspectives, ideas, and knowledge applied, which positively impacts the overall quality and the successful outcome of a project.

By collaborating with partners who are experts in their specific fields, organizations can benefit from their knowledge and enhance their internal capabilities without hiring additional internal personnel. This strategy can lead to significant cost savings and more efficient resource allocation. The experts brought in from the external partner can help the organization meet its deadlines, deliver its projects to a high level of quality or innovate in new areas.

Partnering with external teams strategically can help organizations increase their capacity to deliver successful outcomes while minimizing resource allocation costs. By leveraging partners' expertise, companies benefit from new insights, creative solutions, and expert guidance, leading to more comprehensive and successful outcomes.



Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.

Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.

Topics:   Leadership