Honeywell in It for the Long Haul with Its Partners

It's All About the Relationships, Long-term Commitment and Give and Take

By Nancy Bartels

Honeywell Users Group 2013

When Andrew D'Amelio, Honeywell Process Solutions' new VP of sales for the Americas and co-chaiman of the User Input Subcommittee, talks about the company's vision of "partnership," he could be talking about a good marriage. First of all, that partner has to be a special person. "We can't be this kind of partner with everyone. We have thousands and thousands of customers. We don't have the time or the resources. You don't have the time to do this with every vendor either," D'Amelio said.

But when you find those special people, it becomes worthwhile to develop such a partnership. That first takes time—many years—and being the kind of partner that special person wants to stick with. 

D'Amelio used that observation to segue into an audience-participation game at this week's Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas conference where he asked people who had attended more than five, 10, 15, 20 or 25 HUGs to stand. There were quite a few in each category. It is these kinds of long-term relationships that Honeywell is speaking about when it talks about partnerships, D'Amelio said.

But such partnerships take more than time.  A strong relationship is fundamental to their success, said Amelio, one where both partners know each other—their concerns, their requirements, their quirks, their likes and dislikes—very well. Open, honest give and take is part of the equation.

Shared values are critical to such a partnership too. Both partners have to agree on their mutual goals and how to achieve them.

At the same time, each partner needs to bring unique skill sets to the partnership. "There's no point in having 100% agreement," said Amelio. "You want to partner with somebody who challenges you."

Here Amelio challenged his audience to think outside the box when dealing with Honeywell. "We're a big company, with more than 130,000 employees," he said, adding that there's much more to Honeywell than its Process Systems Division. "Sometimes we may have expertise in another area that we can leverage to arrive at a solution."

Commitment is also crucial to any partnership. Here D'Amelio promised, "We want to be there in both good times and bad. We will not abandon a partner or leave him in the lurch."

He added, "This means sharing the risks and the rewards." When things go well, both Honeywell and its partners benefit. When they go badly, both bear some of the cost.

Honesty and push-back are part of a strong partnership. D'Amelio told the story of a "less-than-perfect" implementation with a customer. During the post mortem it became clear that for its own reasons, the customer had not implemented certain parts of the solution—a decision which complicated the implementation and added to the risks. The customer asked the crucial question, "Why didn't you tell us that this might happen?"

"I took that lesson very seriously," said D'Amelio.

As a wrap-up to his presentation, D'Amelio outlined his own ongoing priorities for developing these kinds of strong partnerships with the users gathered at HUG:

  1. Spend more time with customers. "We want to be there for our customers when we're needed," said D'Amelio.
  2. Impart more knowledge.  "We want to make sure our customers have all the information they need to make informed decisions."
  3. Provide more training.  "We want our people and our end users to have every opportunity to upgrade their skills and knowledge to ensure ongoing success."
  4. Help customers achieve one or both of these goals: Reduce costs and increase output. "Every project must do one of these two things," said Amelio. "These goals are what help you build your business case for the C suite."
  5. Offer world-class lifecycle management. "We want to offer a gradual implementation strategy," says D'Amelio. "We don't encourage rip and replace in most circumstances."

Finally, said D'Amelio, partnership is about staying the course. "You can't just walk away at the end of a project. We want to be there for you for the long haul."