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Lessons Learned from a Starbucks Tech Rollout: 6 Best Practices for Selecting Innovation Partners

To be truly innovative, requires a unique way of looking at opportunities and the solution providers one hopes will help seize them. MURTEC University tapped the expertise of Peak Portfolio, a firm specializing in technology vendor selection and negotiation, to share best practices in selecting technology vendors based on their ability to innovate and integrate; How to overcome the challenge of selecting based on capabilities versus an existing solution; The importance of identifying the experience operators hope to create before selecting a technology partner.
Selecting innovation partners requires a slightly different focus than selecting technology vendors. A case study of the Mr. Eskelin’s past experience managing the Starbucks Card innovation was used to illustrate the following six best practices in selecting innovation partners:
1. Clarity of Innovation Objectives and Scope in a Charter
Innovation often takes place during the project/program chartering, whereby the initial team dares to believe they can change an industry through innovation. The charter is also a tool to help narrow the focus on a few priorities that will change the game for the company. This target innovation must be defined BEFORE you start evaluating which vendor partners are best positioned to help create this target innovation.
2. Formalized Innovation Partner Selection Process
Peak Portfolio shared their proprietary vendor selection process as well as highlighted the differences when selecting innovation partners versus technology vendors. This process aims to ensure an objective and educated partner selection decision, partner alignment on the vision (skin in the game), and optimize leverage to negotiate a win-win strategic partnership relationship.
3. Scoring Matrix Enables Aligned, Educated, and Objective Decision
A scoring matrix is a great tool to define, organize, and prioritize the categories and sub-categories of attributes you will be using to compare potential partners. This will help to enable an aligned, educated, and objective partner selection decision.
4. Online RFP Tool for Efficiency
Gone are the days of reviewing a table full of 2-inch thick vendor proposal binders or trying to consolidate responses into massive spreadsheets. Online RFPs are the new best practice to manage the quantitative evaluation portion of the partner selection process. An RFP tool can create efficiencies for both sides of the process as well as facilitate alignment of multiple stakeholder groups.
5. Stakeholder Alignment on Partner Decision
Creating stakeholder alignment on the partner selection decision is critical to the long-term success of an innovation initiative. Innovation partners are also evaluating you in determining if they want to make the investment in pursuing the innovation. Therefore, it is wise to gain alignment internally to ensure leadership communicates a united message of conviction to pursue the innovation to potential partners.
6.Optimize Perceived Leverage for Negotiations
Negotiations are won or lost before they begin based on perceived leverage. In this case, winning the negotiation means that both parties are fully committed, with mutual skin in the game, to pursue the target innovation. Skilled negotiators use perceived leverage to ensure a win-win deal, not allowing the other side to negotiate a win-lose in their favor.
Peak Portfolio is a management consulting firm focused on technology vendor
selection and negotiation. Visit for more information on their consulting services.
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