How to Choose the Right Vendor Collaboration Partner
September 7, 2023
Spreading your company too thin across too many services isn’t sustainable. But most organizations can’t be every solution for every customer. So, what works? Teaming up with companies that provide complementary products in order to deliver a holistic solution that supports the customer through every step of the buying process. That’s why PayPal’s chief strategy, growth and data officer calls partnership “the business trend to watch."
Before that occurs, it’s important for any business to assess its own values in line with the value of a vendor. If you don’t first identify what you’re looking for in a collaboration partner, it can be difficult to choose variables for determining later whether the collaboration is functioning successfully.
Equator®, a leading provider of residential loan default software and marketing solutions, spent the better part of 2018 exploring potential collaborations to provide new and better services, such as its collaboration with Factom, Inc. Here, we will discuss ways for servicers to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship that also ensures a more streamlined and cost-effective experience for customers.
What to look for in a collaboration partner
As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, the Equator platform caters to all portfolio sizes across the default servicing process. The product suite of loan management, loan modification, short sale/deed-in-lieu, foreclosure/bankruptcy and real estate owned (REO) products helps servicers in the real estate industry manage defaulted loans and REO properties.
Equator prides itself on offering a diverse suite of products that cater to every contingency a client might encounter in the loan default process. However, as portfolio sizes grow and products advance and as the company strives to provide compliant processes and systems for the modern client’s evolving expectations, Equator wanted to collaborate with a vendor that understood the digital world on even a deeper level.
For starters, Equator found that when evaluating a company with which to collaborate that the team had to seriously think through value similarities and strength differences. When it comes to values, a boutique firm that prides itself on a personal touch should look for a partner who has the same attitude around customer service. Since Equator’s product suite is designed for all portfolio sizes and therefore all client sizes, the company knew it would want to find a company like Factom that was also focused on scalability. If a company’s strength is analytics and you’re trying to bring more data-driven decision-making to the default servicing process, that difference can be complementary in terms of expanding capabilities. In Equator’s case, the team took a careful eye to its own pain points and considered whether a vendor’s involvement could improve on that.
What to watch out for in a collaboration partner
When considering what to look for, it’s important to note the flip side: what red flags to watch out for when collaborating with a vendor. The two biggest determinants Equator saw that distinguished companies that might be the wrong fit versus those that could add value were cost and ease of use.
Take competitive purchasing, for instance. A good vendor can still support a more competitive procurement process where bids are open to obtain the best value. If a company is looking for a more single-source, noncompetitive process where they directly select a firm for services and won’t consider other bids, that may be a cause for concern. This can directly impact costs for your business and your clients.
Ease of use also shouldn’t be sacrificed in a vendor partnership. Rather than having to poorly stitch together systems, working with another digital-first company means there could be the opportunity to easily add additional capabilities without clients needing to take on additional effort. If a partner wants to keep systems segregated, tread lightly going forward.
Closing the deal isn’t the end, it’s the beginning
Inking the deal with any company is step one on a long journey of collaboration. After, the real work begins, whether that is guaranteeing newly combined teams are working with the same mutual principles or ensuring that processes on both sides conform to government regulations.
Integration took the form of a more thorough soup-to-nuts solution for Equator clients, one that stayed with Equator from start to finish through every possible contingency. Equator used Factom’s expertise, which underlies its own in-house blockchain (a system of computers linked in a peer-to-peer network that preserves data, files and digital records, making them verifiable and independently auditable, providing these benefits far beyond just the cryptocurrency industry — and in Equator’s case, the default loan and REO management process), to fill in the gaps and to make sure that new holes weren’t being added into the process.
How to gauge if a collaboration is working
What’s more, verifying that a collaboration is successful can be as easy as soliciting client feedback. Since they are the ones seeing the results of this collaboration on a daily basis, clients can objectively report back whether the collaboration has added value. When Equator’s security-minded clients reported an improved experience with the data integrity and trust capabilities in Equator’s software suite, the company knew they had made the right choice in working with Factom.
This is the crux of understanding whether or not a new collaborative relationship is a success. For Equator and Factom, both companies were able to support compliance, auditing and collaboration initiatives on an immediate and scalable platform to Equator’s clients without stretching the in-house teams. It strengthened Equator’s core value proposition immensely. Servicers should be able to say the same while also staying true to their respective companies’ missions by working with a compatible vendor with similar values.
A vendor collaboration is never a quick fix, nor is it something to enter into lightly. However, when done thoughtfully and strategically, it can be a collective victory.
Contact us today to learn how Equator’s products and services can help your organization.