In my last project I had to deal with an “overly powerful” implementation partner, i.e. a company who can easily disrespect her customers’ interests just because of her sheer size and market position. Additionally these firms pay highest attention to not being contractually vulnerable – even in case that means they wouldn’t accept an order if it’s not according to their waterproof clauses, terms and conditions. Simple example: penalties are generally not accepted; therefore the customer has no lever or claim in case of delays.
That’s what we faced, too, and our project started right away with a delay of 2 weeks at the supplier. First it looked as if we had to swallow a postponement of all our milestones and pay the surplus cost on top. But we managed to make our big partner put in (for him) unusual efforts and resource allocations, and effectively catch up the delay in the remaining time.
How? Well, we simply always were one to two steps ahead of him. Our work packages and provisions were delivered absolutely on plan. Again and again we requested testing and approvals at our supplier, sent him test data, forced his hands. We couldn’t oblige him to anything, but obviously this pushing the progress touched his self-appeal and the motivation of his implementation team.
Anyway, after a quite bumpy start with much bueraucratic ping-pong we have merged and grown in a joint team which coordinately managed to make some “impossible” things happen, sometimes by putting a slant on impeding regulations and processes. A really fine success!