News|General|31 Aug 2019|Natalie Schraufnagel

How to find the right Design Partner

You are charged with having to find a design partner to help support your team. Selecting the right design partner for a specific project is easier said than done.

The relationship of internal and external resources is constantly changing due to consumer market influence and the design profession evolution. Internal corporate design teams and their capabilities are evolving and consultancies are expanding skill sets and services to accommodate the shift. There are so many potential design partners available and at first glance, they seem to offer comparable services. So how do you select the right one?

Working as a consultant for PARK, I support design leaders and teams across the world. Our clients’ situations are very different from each other; however, they share similar design challenges. As an example, one client works in a Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Fortune 500 company while another works in a world leading global technology company. One thing they have in common is the practice of working with external design partners.

Start with the basics

It is important to know what your organization needs in a design partner relationship. Think about the desired capabilities, amount of support, length of partnership, type of communication, etc. to create a proper selection criteria. The task may seem difficult and time consuming to start from scratch, but keep the following in mind. When implemented well, full dedication and long term strategic cooperation makes the partners work like the ‘right arm’ of the business.

There are various techniques and processes available to select the right design partner, ranging from subjective to professional. In my career working for in-house and external design teams, I would continuously ask why isn’t there a tool to help me select the right design partner. Sure, I had worked with a robust Design Partner Roster or even a simple list of past design partners, but I was concerned if I was making the best selection. There was no way to rank or validate why the selection of one design partner outweighed another. However, it wasn’t until I joined PARK that I learned about PARK’s Design Partner Profiler & Roster Tool. This leading practice tool is the missing piece I needed.

Design Partner Profiler & Roster Tool

The tool evaluates and ranks design partners based on several metrics and attributes relevant to your needs such as business thinking, creativity, communication, experience and several design capabilities. The power of the tool is that it uses metrics to rank design partners instead of reducing assessment to pure subjectivity. This type of professional quality ranking can be presented in an objective manner to get the right design partner.

The 5 steps

The tool is rather simple to use even though the idea of applying metrics to evaluate design partnership success sounds complex. Below are 5 steps explaining how to start?

  • Step 1 – Research all previous and potential design partners and make a long list.
  • Step 2 – Fill in the Design Partner Profiler Tool for each design partner you have on the long list.
  • Step 3 – Grab your Design Partner Roster and fill in your project scope. Make sure you have a clear overview of the capabilities needed for the project.
  • Step 4  – Make a short list of possible Design Partners and fill the rest of your Design Partner Roster.
  • Step 5  – Select the best Design Partner for your project.

Make sure you update the information of your design partners on the Design Partner Profiler at least 2 times a year to keep the information up to date. Each time you start a new project you can directly start at step 3! It will save you a lot of time and a healthy relationship with your Design Partners.

With 15 years of experience in client and design partnership guidance, PARK was able to create, pilot and refine the Design Partner Profiler & Roster Tool. As we share this leading practice tool with existing clients, they implement this into their design operations to increase successful design partnerships.

Follow the 5 steps and begin to strengthen the relationship with your design partners. Contact us for more information.

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