Software firms, especially smaller and younger ones, often face challenges when navigating the corporate world. Partnerships can help to overcome challenges.

Press releases like this are popping up more frequently recently: “ECOFIN and MMG Management Consulting form sales and implementation partnership for FINFOX in Austria.”

ECOFIN is a software company that provides software tools for banks and other financial institutions as well as family offices or foundations. The digital consulting platform FINFOX is being used by more than 250 banks in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and other countries. MMG is a technology-focused consulting boutique that focuses on sourcing, digitalization, and banking services.

What’s interesting about that?

Software firms and management consultants: a win-win-win

Companies that offer digital tools often have a key challenge: They sell a product to corporate customers, who often live in a completely different world. Take the example above: Software and banking couldn’t be any more different in terms of cultures and the way people think about processes and challenges.

It gets even harder when we’re talking about small software firms, potentially startups (unlike ECOFIN, a company with a track record of 30 years and more than 50 employees). But imagine a small startup with its enthusiastic team of supersmart tech nerds sitting opposite of a conservative corporate board of directors that play by different rules: Decision-making processes are significantly longer, feedback cycles take weeks, and things are just much more corporate and less agile than in the startup world. That’s a setup for failure.

And that’s where the partnerships with established consulting firms can make a lot of sense. Consultants are experts in working their ways through corporate structures, communicating with multiple stakeholders, and drive projects through corporate politics, resistance, and sometimes inefficient structures. In short: They are good at what many tech firms lack, corporate project management.

On the other hand, tech firms have something management consultants often don’t have: An existing technology that can solve a problem. That’s not to say that consultants can’t solve problems (smiley), but they usually don’t have an out-of-the-box solution that can solve a particular problem, maybe just with a few tweaks here and there to fit the individual client’s requirements. Consultants can team up with tech firms to “sell” their product – a win-win.

And partnerships like that could also be a win-win-win as the client wins as well. It’s really a challenge for corporates to work with tech startups that don’t understand the way of their world. Having a consultant on board that drives the project might therefore help.

Consultants want to stay neutral players

Now, it’s not that easy for startups to get reputable consulting firms to work with them. First, consultants usually want to be product agnostic. It gives them the neutral image of the consultant, which benefits their client relationships. Second, they don’t want to be your door-opener, so they probably won’t do the sales for you.

Fair enough. But in the end, consulting firms also want to earn money. So if you have a rock-solid solution that solves a real problem, why not talking to a few consultants and see if you can form a partnership. It doesn’t cost anything to ask.

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