What Does a Strategic Partner Offer above and Beyond Managed Services?

Strategic partnership and vendors

IT buyers nowadays are constantly on the lookout for vendors who can provide value above and beyond the traditional managed services relationship. With so many IT companies providing roughly the same services and level of service, those that don’t set themselves apart from the rest of the pack run the risk of being seen as nothing more than an expendable commodity.

If managed service providers wish to remain competitive and relevant, they will need to evolve into more of a proactive solutions thinker for their clients. Long gone are the days when the client has a problem, the vendor suggests a solution, and then the client receives an invoice. We want to share with you five behaviors and attributes of a strategic partnership:


Collaboration is the cornerstone of any successful strategic partnership. It’s a reflection of how far a vendor is willing and able to go to distill the imaginary line of buyer and seller so that true collaboration can take place.

For example, more and more IT buyers and managed service providers are entering into joint business development or joint strategy development discussions compared to a few years ago. This open and collaborative process is evidence of how many businesses view their vendors not as vendors—but as a true partner in every sense.


How quickly the vendor responds to the changing needs of the client is another indicator of a strategic partnership. Not only must they respond quickly, but efficiently as well as working hard to reduce ambiguity.


Strong, honest, and open communication are critically important to not only developing a strategic partnership but maintaining one for many years to come. It’s the driving force behind success in all other categories and can help provide a roadmap to the future.

Many IT leaders have reported that communication is often one-sided—even with their most valued strategic partners. IT companies are looking for strategic partners who can demonstrate that roadmap alignment. This, however, cannot take place until the communication between IT company and strategic partners becomes a two-way street.

Market Knowledge

Strategic partners need to know both the business and market of their clients inside and out. Instead of only appearing when there’s an issue to sort out or a bill that needs to be paid, they should reach out to their partners and provide proactive consulting and advice to help them achieve their goals.

Pricing That’s Flexible

Pricing services that are outside the budget of the buyer are nonindicative of a strategic partnership. Pricing should instead reflect joint ventures and partnerships. Scope flexibility, co-innovation, and outcome-based pricing are reliable indicators of a strategic partnership.

Strategic Partnerships Add Value

Remaining competitive and relevant in the IT industry will require vendors to look above and beyond the immediate sale and find ways they can add value to the business relationship. With as many choices as there are on the market, IT vendors should consider providing more value in the long run through strategic partnerships that benefit both parties.