How to find the ideal development partner

Already the last part of the story of Harry, product manager at a producer of gas fireplaces. Because the government strives for a climate-neutral society, Harry and his colleagues have a lot to do. How does the company maintain a good market position? And how do you ensure that all employees keep their jobs in a changing market? For Harry it is clear: innovation is the solution.

Not (just) thinking, but also doing

Harry has done a lot of exploration lately. He looked at the technical possibilities and the strength of his own organization. And he convinced the management to build a prototype. He would prefer to make it with his colleagues, because it is a great challenge for the engineers. Only: no one in the department has sufficient knowledge of electronics and connectivity. And that’s a serious issue. Perhaps collaborating with a specialized party is a better idea. But with whom? And what can you expect from an external party?

How do you find the ideal development partner?

Do you swipe left or right when scrolling through the range of development partners? On Tinder you mainly see whether you like the headline, but with development partners it is a bit more nuanced. That is why Harry decides to spar with Jan (head of engineering) and Peter (head of marketing). Three know more than one. Together they come up with a list of selection criteria. Here it comes:

1. Knowledge and skill

The ideal development partner has the knowledge and skills needed to fully develop the prototype. He makes the electronic part, but also the housing and he ensures that the prototype can be produced immediately after approval. In addition, the partner must have proven expertise. This prevents beginner mistakes, loss of time by reinventing the wheel and therefore unnecessary costs.

2. Communication and information

Harry and his colleagues want to be informed in an efficient way about how the customer will experience the product in the future. For example via an app or a website. A question for the new partner is therefore how he shapes this communication.

Innovation is learning. That is why knowledge transfer is also important. How does the development partner put this into practice? And how does he make innovation a fun and educational process?

3. Relieve

Thinking proactively is a plus. But practical advantages also weigh in on the selection. Consider, for example, a partner who can supply parts itself, possibly in collaboration with a production house. Or to someone who can also provide legal advice, about a confidentiality agreement and intellectual property, for example. With the combination of service orientation, knowledge and expertise, the partner becomes a source of information for Harry and his colleagues. And especially Jan, who prefers not to be asked difficult questions, thinks this point is very important.

4. Collaborate

The collaboration must provide added value. That is why they are looking for a partner who thinks creatively and who wants to work with them in a development process. A process in which they complement each other: one has knowledge of gas fires and the other of electronics. The ultimate goal is an optimal prototype: the sum of the best of both worlds.

5. Click

You work closely together in a development process. It is nice if you speak each other’s language and work well together. “The click” is indefinable, so trust your gut feeling.

So if you check this list off, you have found the ideal development partner?

I wish it were like that. Broadly speaking, the list also applies to you, but of course you make your own custom list. Based on your specific situation and the aspects that you find important. Our tip: talk to each other internally, but also start a conversation with possible partners. That says (literally) a lot more than the text on a website or a commercial folder. Really get to know each other. And then make a choice. So it works a little differently than with Tinder.

Innovation is learning and doing

Innovation always creates a tension between focus and grip to ensure that you achieve the end goal and the space and confidence to come up with new solutions.

Like Harry, you will encounter more and more questions when looking for an innovative solution. You look at different options, you research and inventory and you learn from the insights you encounter on your path. And then you start convincing people and include them in the process.

Your question may not be the same as his, but your innovative process does look similar. If you are also looking for a development partner, swipe right and schedule a non-binding ‘date’ with us. You will never be disappointed with us. 


Dennis Wissink has over 20 years of experience in the technical secondment. He is co-founder of Xelvin (internationally operating in technical secondment). He lead this company for 9 years as CEO. Where he has gained experience with company strategy and startup new concepts, offices and companies. Specialities are strategic development, Design Thinking and business Models.


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Dutch Innovation Days
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