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IT Innovation | November 3, 2015

Building Stronger Strategic Partnerships with Joint Business Reviews - (Part 1 of 2)

By: Guest Author

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We are fanatical at Oracle about striving to continuously improve the strength of our customer relationships. This objective permeates every aspect of our business. We have many strategies for achieving this, and I'd like to focus today on the Joint Business Review - a process we've initiated among our largest 300 customers.

It's important to first take a moment to define what we mean by the term
"customer relationship." To us, customer relationships are managed at
two distinct levels: with an overall perspective of how the two
organizations work together to compliment respective business objectives
and strategies; and how many different individuals within one
organization work with their counterparts in the other. If the
relationship between Oracle and the customer organization is working
well, it's performing at both levels, with structure and governance in
places as a bridge between the two organizations. The relationship has
to be satisfying for the actual people involved and in keeping with
mutual business. Corporations are clearly not people. But they're
certainly made up of people. And people generally want to build
relationships with other people where both parties benefit.

The Joint Business Review provides a unique opportunity to explore the health of the customer relationship (along both dimensions) and determine concrete ways to strengthen it. As part of this process, we look to drive deeper long-term engagement with senior customer decision-makers and influencers.

The core of the review is a deep analysis of the customer relationship in its current state. This process involves nearly every member of the account team. The group identifies and examines residual concerns as well as dormant or emerging issues that can be addressed proactively. Further, the team takes stock of where the relationship is strongest and why, and assesses areas that are showing improvement.

As part of the Joint Business Review, we also look to extend the planning window from an annual process to a three-year horizon to foster a more sustained, longer-term partnership. This review provides an important opportunity to collaborate with customers, map their needs to emerging Oracle solutions, and conduct strategic, long-term planning that can yield more successful deployments and a better overall experience. To us, a better experience means the customer enjoys a successful business outcome because of our work together.

We started doing these reviews for 300 strategic accounts three years ago and have conducted repeat reviews for more than two-thirds of them to date. The response from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive. They appreciate and recognize the value the review adds, and understand its important role in delivering real results. CIO's on Oracle's executive advisory boards have told us that Oracle demonstrates it's thought leadership by focusing first on their strategic initiatives and then bringing relevant product strategies that clearly map to business issues, competitive strategies, and desired business outcomes.

While the Joint Business Review process is focused on the company's largest accounts, many of the lessons learned are shared and adopted across the organization. For example, we've taken account planning best practices developed for this initiative to the next segment of our largest 2,000 accounts. We've provided these account leads with turnkey resources for strategic account planning and have replicated our executive sponsorship model.

We've developed a number of tools and best practices along the way that I'll share in my next post. The Joint Business Review is a dynamic process that we continually refine and hone as we learn from our program managers, customers, and other customer relationship professionals. We look forward to continuing to build on its success. A strong framework and attention to relationships leads to real business outcomes and true partnerships.

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