Credit Unions Need Technology Partners, Not Vendors
What is the difference between a partner and vendor? The distinction exists across all aspects of business, especially when it comes to technology. Some credit union software providers might supply the software and hardware you need and leave you to work out the rest. However, a partner interested in your success would examine existing infrastructure and advise you on changes you need, and more importantly, on changes you don't need. A true technology partner should ultimately help to ensure results and strive for their credit unions to succeed.
SAP, a popular ERP software used by the NBA, Under Armour and many others defines a partner as someone whose mindset is doing business on behalf of your company, whereas a vendor is simply someone who supplies a product or service.
Recognizing a credit union technology vendor is simple: they just deliver the service.... and then the invoice. Technology vendors sell you their software for a profit and care little about your credit union's success as long as your check clears. These type of relationships quickly grow sour and once the contract expires, you can almost guarantee the credit union will be looking for another software provider.
“Partner” is a label that it is earned and can only be bestowed by the client. The distinction of partner is typically accompanied by the delivery of additional value, extraordinary customer service, and extremely high levels of attentiveness. It is a name that signifies mutual dependency. Partners align their vision and goals to work in tandem based on collective trust, openness, and shared risk and reward that yields a competitive advantage for both parties. Credit unions that enjoy a partnership with their technology provider can give valuable insight and participate in product design that benefits both groups. Partnerships are fluid, flexible relationships that rely on honesty and integrity to succeed. They are, at their core, symbiotic.
Not every vendor needs to be, nor should be, classified as a partner. Likewise, not all business relationships fall into these two specific categories. More than likely the majority of your contracts blur the lines between partner and vendor. The key to success with technology is finding the right partner for your credit union's growth needs. When your need is a simple commodity, look to a vendor that can provide that at a low cost. However, when your needs are more complicated than a simple commodity, such as a credit union software platform, a strong partner can make your operation much more efficient.