Original publish date: October 18, 2018 | Updated: June 7, 2023
At Pathify, we refer to the institutions we work with as partners. This is intentional – we want a healthy back-and-forth relationship with colleges and universities. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the work getting to a place where everyone is engaged and satisfied with the partnership.
Sherrie Campbell from Entrepreneur Magazine wrote nearly a decade ago about the markers of successful partnerships. Some of these markers are foundational to Pathify’s institutional partners and Sherrie’s list inspired us to try to capture what we think makes a great partnership.
As we continue to build our global campus partner community, we wanted to reflect on the crucial ingredients in how we’ve navigated building successful relationships with a wide variety of institutions from all over the world.
All stakeholders in a relationship should work hard to help each other toward success. We see this as a classic give and take where we work together with our partners to give each other whatever they need at the moment. This could look like providing detailed data and context to a university for a report they’re putting together or brainstorming strategies for customizing their Engagement Hub to meet their institution’s specific goals. On the other side, we’ve been immensely grateful to our partners over the years when they’ve given us feedback and insight to support our growth and strategic roadmap.
This value is simply about whether each benefits from the partnership. It stems from shared goals unique to each side of the relationship. To build upon the prior value, there needs to be support for making sure everyone feels satisfied in what the partnership is producing.
To achieve this, at the start and during the partnership both sides must ask themselves some core questions. For us, can we help the university succeed in a challenge area or pain point? For our partners, does using our platform look like a win? Also, is there a return on investment on this partnership?
These questions allow each side to gain clarity on how they’re benefiting from the partnership.
There needs to be trust and shared values for a partnership to be successful. Trust in particular is hard to build and easy to break, but maintaining it is critical. A partnership can’t go too far if one side is skeptical of the values of their counterpart.
Building this trust will take time, but is accomplished by maintaining the attributes outlined in this list. In addition, it is about reliability when fulfilling expectations. Someone does what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it and how they say they’ll do it. If something is preventing them from achieving this, they communicate it to their partner. They also aren’t afraid to ask for help when it is needed. An earnest desire to do something the right way will be appreciated.
Once a strong basis of trust is built, collaboration feels seamless.
Inevitably, issues will come up within a partnership. How open and honest each partner is with one another is key in navigating those challenges. Feedback is crucial to maintaining a healthy partnership which is able to grow. This also means making space for feedback on a regular basis through recurring touch points and surveying.
We create space for consistent feedback in platforms like Canny, providing a forum for users to submit ideas for improvement right to our Product team to evaluate.
There’s an opportunity in a great partnership for each side to inspire and catalyze the other to do their best work. We see this especially in higher education. Institutions will implement technology partnerships allowing them to fill gaps and reach new heights which would be unimaginable otherwise. Driving sustained positive change on a campus is hard work, and great partnerships are able to support this work through all of the hurdles as they come up.
On the other side, organizations work with higher education institutions to get valuable insights into the unique challenges these campuses face. This allows them to contour their workflows to the ways these institutions tend to work so each side is empowered to reach their full potential.
We love celebrating our partners. It’s important to keep morale high on all sides while not always making things about yourself. Working in education can be hard at times, so it’s important to find the moment to celebrate milestones and wins accomplished together. This can be public or private, and might include pulling specific data points to showcase a win or simply calling out someone’s hard work. While easily forgotten, this attribute is a very valuable addition to any great partnership.
Providing a high quality of service to your partner means a lot of things. It embodies many of the other attributes on this list. It looks like showing empathy, exceeding expectations and simply being polite. Partnerships are made of people, so they deserve to be treated with kindness and care.
On our team, there are stellar account managers, technical support specialists and training advisors who provide support across the whole spectrum of our customer experience. Each one of them is accessible, consistent and a pleasure to work with.
While these seven attributes are not an exhaustive list of the requirements for a great partnership, we believe they’re a good way to think about how to create one. We want to do everything we can as a company to engage in relationships where we can make a significant difference for our partners and their students. In addition, we look forward to creating relationships with our partners pushing us to continue improving our platform not only to help them, but other future partners as well.
This sentiment drove us to create our customer community, Collegium. It’s a place where our customers interact with us and each other so we can all reach higher levels of success, together. We hope it stands as a testament to our commitment to great partnership, not just to institutions using Pathify, but to higher education as a whole.