The Meaning of Partnership for State and Local Government

Kennon Walthall is Avenu’s senior vice president in charge of partnerships. Here he describes the partner program and how it brings value to Avenu’s state and local government clients.

What is the strategy behind Avenu’s partnership program?

Avenu provides solutions that jurisdictions use every day, but in some cases we add the technology and expertise of other companies to make those solutions work as well as they do. This way we stay focused on the primary mission of solving clients’ problems.

Avenu needs to continue to grow in order to meet the many needs of our clients. The immediacy to deploy a solution means that it’s not feasible for us to build each of them because the development, quality control and testing processes can take a long time. Nor is it prudent to try and acquire many companies with particular software or expertise. But partnering with them means we can bring a solution to market quicker and optimize clients’ operations.

Whether we deploy only our core solutions or bring in partners with ancillary ones, clients know we are delivering the value they need to serve their communities. So, Avenu will join forces with other companies when there is a specific need and if they complement our offerings.

What are the companies with which Avenu has partnerships?

Avenu has an established partnership with Esri, the leading provider of geographic information system (GIS) software. We use that technology to geo-enable some of Avenu’s solutions so jurisdictions can know more details about their sales and property tax data, for example.

In another partnership with Ellucian, we have two dozen deployments of their human resources and finance software for jurisdictions. There are a variety of other ones, and we’re always looking at new opportunities to partner as long as it meets the criteria for a specific need that fits with our solution portfolio.

How does the term partnership extend to client relationships?

The private and public sector are molded together for delivery of services. The needs are too great for government to do it for itself. We’re a few weeks away from the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and even for that one program estimates are that 400,000 people from various organizations supported that.

Avenu shares the vision of seeing a better tomorrow with state and local governments. To us this means we stretch each other and provide value outside the scope of a particular agreement by offering our perspective and information that will help jurisdictional leaders do their jobs better. For instance, we are advising a city in the Southeast on how to streamline their business license renewal process, so they will improve the perception and reality of being business friendly – something that other cities will emulate. This is a long-term, partner mindset that distinguishes Avenu from vendors.

We also make key investments of our time and funds in developing new solutions so clients can stay ahead of citizens’ expectations for how they interact with their governments. Last, several of Avenu’s solutions are budget neutral. For example, we only get paid for our Discovery & Recovery work when we find new revenue. By structuring this offering on a contingent-fee basis, we can honestly say that we are more than a vendor that wants a fee. To me that’s a partner in the truest sense of the word.

Are there other organizations Avenu would consider partnering with?

Avenu is a strategic partner of the International City/County Management Association, so there are awareness and information exchange opportunities that we take advantage of there. We also have an agreement with the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association under which we exchange referrals and awareness. And we are in talks with other organizations to see if we can formalize some type of relationship. The challenge is to identify the ones that will offer the biggest value that we can pass along to our clients. Ultimately that’s the deciding factor in whether we engage with another organization.

The marketing rule of thumb is that a thought has to be articulated seven times before audiences hear it: government and the private sector need each other. As a partner, we reinforce that by focusing on what communities need.