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The Vital Role of Shared Values in Supplier Relationships: A FIFUM Perspective

In the fast-paced world of digital startups and scale-ups, the importance of having suppliers that not only understand but also share your values cannot be overstated. This alignment is crucial, as it ensures that both parties are moving in the same direction, especially when challenges arise. For FIFUM, a UK-based Managed Service Provider (MSP) dedicated to assisting digital start/scale-ups grow through cloud infrastructure, this principle is paramount. Our experience with a partner in 2021, who provided standard email signatures for Microsoft 365 customers, serves as a poignant example of the repercussions when this alignment is absent.

The Incident That Highlighted It All

In late 2022, this partner experienced a major outage that impacted almost all their customers to varying degrees. Some experienced delayed email deliveries, while others were met with errors stating that emails could not be delivered at all. However, the outage itself wasn’t the sole issue; it was the partner’s response—or lack thereof—that brought a significant challenge to the forefront.

During the outage, the partner’s usual communication channel, web chat, was offline. The only acknowledgment of the problem was a brief notice on their website, indicating awareness of an issue affecting some customers, with no further information on resolution times. This lack of transparency was not just an inconvenience; it was a direct contradiction to the values we hold dear at FIFUM.

Transparency is a cornerstone of our operations. It influences how we interact with our clients, manage expectations, and deliver services. The partner’s failure to communicate effectively during the crisis made it impossible for us to uphold our commitment to transparency, thereby affecting our ability to deliver our value proposition to our customers.

The Aftermath and Lessons Learned

The aftermath of the outage was equally disheartening. The partner’s summary of the incident seemed to downplay the severity and impact on customers, with one of the issues being glossed over entirely. This response was not just disappointing; it was a clear sign that our values were not aligned. Consequently, we made the difficult decision to find a new partner to deliver the service. Although searching for and transitioning to a new partner was time-consuming and came at an inconvenient time, it was a necessary step to ensure alignment with our core values.

This experience taught us several valuable lessons about the importance of value alignment with our partners:

1. Shared Values Enhance Resilience

When challenges arise, shared values between partners can significantly enhance the resilience of the relationship. They ensure that both parties are committed to addressing issues in a manner that aligns with their collective ethos.

2. Transparency is Non-Negotiable

For FIFUM, transparency is not just a value; it’s a non-negotiable aspect of all our partnerships. It’s essential for maintaining trust, not only between us and our partners but also with our customers.

3. Proactive Communication is Key

Effective and proactive communication during crises is crucial. It helps manage expectations and provides reassurance that steps are being taken to resolve the issue, something that was sorely missing in our experience.

4. Alignment Ensures Smooth Operations

Value alignment ensures that operations run smoothly, even when unforeseen challenges arise. It facilitates a unified approach to problem-solving and decision-making.

Moving Forward

The incident with our former partner was a pivotal moment for FIFUM. It reinforced our commitment to ensuring that our suppliers not only understand our values but also share them. This alignment is vital for sustaining operations that are transparent, resilient, and customer-focused. As we move forward, our experiences continue to shape our approach, reminding us that the right partnerships are not just about services or costs but about shared values and mutual respect. For digital startups and scale-ups looking to grow in today’s dynamic environment, selecting partners who align with your core values is not just beneficial; it’s essential.

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