Building a solid business partnership that started 10 years ago
Celebrating 10 years of partnership is quite unique in our world. Both PharmaPartners and Yonder value professional relationships and put effort into maintaining them. Yet, in our line of business, it isn’t always the case that companies remain partners for so long. Our 10th anniversary gives us the opportunity to celebrate and look at the ingredients that made the partnership between PharmaPartners and Yonder so successful.
Many changes in 10 years’ time
During these past 10 years, a lot has changed, such as how IT companies develop software, focus on customers, think about innovation, and the type of outsourcing services they deliver. At Yonder and PharmaPartners, we have moved from having a product focus to being customer- and result-driven. This shift was enabled by switching to agile and scrum product development. This new agility and focus on clients meant an entirely new approach to innovation. And as a partner, Yonder went from co-delivering pieces of software to full responsibility and thinking along with the clients, helping them achieve their product ambitions.
Being close to your customer
Creating this new closeness in how we work and approach our mutual objectives meant that as companies, we both had to grow in the same direction, value the same principles, celebrate achievements, and dare speak out when you feel the other is not pulling its weight. It is not always easy, but PharmaPartners and Yonder have been led by people with good relationship skills who were role models and gave us the right example.
The situation 10 years ago
Dorinda van Oosten is now a General Manager at Total Specific Solutions (TSS), responsible for TSS Group in France and PharmaPartners General Practitioners, Pharmacy (Groups) & eHealth (NL). Back in 2013, a year into PharmaPartners’ partnership with Yonder, she joined as the Director of the PharmaPartners New Business division. This unit developed innovations for the existing client base of PharmaPartners, such as an eHealth solution called MGN (mijngezondheid.net) and an innovation using data to improve the healthcare of the population in certain regions. Daniel Lar, the current Managing Director of Yonder, has been with Yonder since 1993.
In 2012, Daniel was Yonder’s Director of software development, and the company was working with the business units PharmaPartners GPs and Pharmacies. The New Business division was working with another external development company. Daniel says: “Some units of PharmaPartners were already clients in 2013, so whenever I would visit the Netherlands and our clients, I would also meet with Dorinda when she was MD of New Business.” Dorinda continues: “Well, I interacted with Yonder from the start. Daniel and I both questioned why we weren’t working together. We developed our relationship and discussed how we could migrate the work to Yonder. It took us 1,5 years to do so.”
Evolving as customer-centric companies
“PharmaPartners has been around for 43 years and had a customer-centric approach at that time. But as with all processes, your customer strategy needs to evolve and change over time. As a company, you start with a few clients, and in time you accumulate many clients of a different nature. We lost some of our customer-intimacy back then, so we had to refocus,” says Dorinda. “In 2015, Han Knooren became the General Manager of PharmaPartners, Sander de Jong the Managing Director of Pharmacies, and I got the role of Managing Director for our GP Business Unit. We could now focus on our customers again, giving them the attention they deserved.”
The world of outsourcing/nearshoring and software development was changing. Agile software development and scrum were becoming more widely used, yet many companies still practiced waterfall development. This change in development processes also required a different outsourcing model. “Agile and scrum meant shorter and more direct communication bringing us closer to our clients,” comments Daniel. “By switching to a result-driven process model, we could offer a much better service to clients. The adoption of Agile development by nature meant a more intense collaboration with more frequent communication touch points. This was our path to becoming a modern customer-driven company.”
What changed to become results-driven?
Both organizations were moving to a new way of working together, which we accomplished through more transparency in our discussions and thus creating better cooperation. “For Yonder to be results-driven required us to be more proactive, ask the right questions, take more responsibility, know why we are doing what we are doing, what is the ultimate objective,” comments Daniel. “Both companies weren’t used to that yet, so the management teams had to align frequently because executive support was key in a successful results-driven collaboration. There were one or two times on our side that we had to make substantial changes. For example, when PharmaPartners was split into different business units, we followed their direction and split the work between Cluj and Iasi. We will switch units responsible for the development to get the right focus for PharmaPartners. Both companies had multiple business units, so we swapped to find the right combination for both parties. The learning process was difficult at times, but we focused on the long-term, and it has proven to be the right choice with overall good results.”
Next month part 2 of the interview with Dorinda van Oosten and Daniel Lar.
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