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Answer 7 Questions for Success in External Partnerships

Modern video game development requires external partners.
Answer 7 Questions for Success in External Partnerships

The last twenty years have shown us at Streamline every trick in the book for providing successful partnership services. Yet, despite all our experience and knowledge, every project is unique and requires innovative ideas and approaches. The key to taking part in a successful external development partnership lies within understanding what makes an effective partner.

So, how do you choose a development partner, and what to expect in this critical business relationship?

External partnerships, particularly in the video game development process, can be a fantastic way to get your project completed on time and within budget. By assigning specific tasks to external teams, you’re free to focus your internal team’s energies on critical parts of the project that require your unique attention.

What we are discussing is the practice of using third-party suppliers to produce specific components of your production.

It’s an incredibly powerful technique which turns around your business so it can start working for you—instead of the other way round. It’s also cost effective and allows development teams to be much more flexible and focus wherever necessary.

It makes perfect sense to use external development in video game development, because creating a huge AAA title is no easy task; it might even take several years to complete one project.

During this lengthy project, things are constantly changing, most of which are not visible to customers or users of the finished product.

External video game developers specialize in creating video game assets in partnership with other development teams.

But how do you choose?

Experience, expertise, and portfolio are your best guides to choosing the right external team for your game.

Time in video game production can be tight.

Video game developers need to be precise and ensure they produce significant assets at competitive prices, so they stay competitive in the market. The best way to do this is by finding reliable partners, who work fast, with skill and efficiency.

Your best partner levels out the hills and valleys of production, reduces risk, scales your resources, and gives you confidence to compete in global markets.

  1. Are you looking to save money?

    There are many advantages to external partnerships, including cost savings and access to a wider talent pool. When businesses add partnerships to a workflow, they receive help from reduced costs since they are not paying for in-house staff.  
    • Businesses can take advantage of the ability and skills of workers in other countries who may do the job for less money. This can be especially helpful for companies that need specialized skills or knowledge that is not available in-house. Businesses can broaden their talent pool and find the best possible candidates for the job.
    • So, if you are looking to save money, you will find opportunities with the right partner, not so much by cost, but through efficiencies of time management and experience.
  2. Is your team drowning in work?

    When work piles up and your team feels overwhelmed, finding a viable external partnership can get some of the work off their plate. They can focus on their core competencies and strengths.
    • It can free time for the team so they can work on more important tasks. It can help the team be more productive. It can help the team better meet deadlines and deliver results. So, if your team is feeling overwhelmed with work, choosing an external partnership might be an excellent solution.
  3. Do you need access to immediate talent?

    You can get quick access to a much larger pool of talent than you could find in your local area with external partnerships.
    • The best talent often gravitates towards the largest cities, and companies in smaller towns or rural areas often have a challenging time finding qualified employees. Imagine tapping into an ability that may not be available locally.
    • For example, if you need someone with experience in a specific programming language or with experience in a certain type of character style, you may find someone more quickly and easily by vetting sources outside your company.
    • When you need a quick gut check and renewed focus on your project, bring in talent with fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, concepts to elevate your project.
    • Finding the right creative partner can change your game and deliver the type of market results you need to build your company.
  4. Why is your studio seeking external partnerships?

    • Working with a third-party provider, you gain access to specialized skills and knowledge that may be difficult or impossible for your company to replicate in-house.
    • External partnerships can help businesses support a competitive edge by allowing them to focus on their core competencies and by enabling them to respond more quickly to changes in the marketplace.
    • External partnerships can help companies manage their risks by spreading risk across several vendors.
  5. How does your team feel about your decision?

    There can be mixed feelings within a team when external partners are introduced. Some employees may feel that they are being replaced or that their job is no longer secure.
    • However, if done correctly, dynamic external partnerships can free up employees. When deciding to bring in outside help, it's important to communicate with employees and explain the reasons behind the decision. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and they address negative feelings head-on.
  6. What changes in business procedures do you need to implement to make external partnerships?

    Develop a set of standard operating procedures, or SOPs, given to external partners and then implemented with each project.
    • You may also need to implement an incentive program so that everybody understands how this is going to help them and how leveraging ability outside of your organization can help everyone succeed.
    • You may need to hire more internal staff or contract more employees who can manage external teams and interface on behalf of your company so that "handoffs" between team members and external team members go smoothly.
  7. Are you communicating with your team clearly why external partners makes sense?

    When deciding to take on external teams, it's important that everyone understands why it makes sense.
    • To ensure transparency, be clear about the reasons for external partnerships and what help the company expects to see. This will help to maintain trust between management and employees and avoid any misunderstandings.
    • It's important that the work meets the specific needs of the company. Avoid ambiguity by making sure your explanations are easy to understand. This will help reduce confusion and ensure that everyone understands what's expected of them.

The answers to these seven questions can be the difference between a poor result and a successful one, so get them answered in meetings with your external partner. The answers will give you an idea of how they will change business operations.

*Excerpts from the book ‘Video Game Development in The Real World’

That’s a first look at our thoughts and ideas about external partnerships. We’ve gathered these ideas and many others into a book we will be releasing in the next several months. Our goal is to shed as much light as possible on the critical business relationship to ensure the success of these exciting ventures.