If you want to compete, co-operate

Business, the consultants never tire of telling us, is more competitive than ever. However, increasing numbers of companies are seeking to compete better through co-operating.

Car companies, for example, are more likely to play to their strengths rather than develop and produce all the components of the cars they make. Computer companies, too, are seeing advantages in partnerships and alliances. Accordingly, Logica, the consultancy and systems integration and software company, has formed a close relationship with Reuters, the international news and financial information company.

For some time Logica has supplied personnel for the "virtual organisation" that the international financial information company has set up to improve the usability of its products. It has also helped produce various products and assisted with management issues. But last month it was selected by Reuters as one of its preferred international IT professional services suppliers. This means that the two companies have agreed the terms of a "preferential trading relationship" in which Logica's dedicated Reuters team will work closely with the company to develop IT solutions designed to give it a business edge.

David Ure, executive director at Reuters, said: "Logica understands our people and how we operate. We've worked with them for a number of years and we trust them. We have found Logica to be technically excellent and committed to delivering successful projects."

Matthew Grisoni, the Reuters global account manager at Logica, explains that this long-standing link has recently been beefed up by Logica making a significant investment in the "proactive management" of the relationship. "We've done that by putting together an international team that mirrors the Reuters structure," he said.

As a result there is a head office in London, with other operations in continental Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa and Asia. About six to seven people work on this key account full time but Mr Grisoni can call on expertise within Logica when he needs it.

"Reuters and Logica are quite similar. Reuters is very technologically aware and we are too because it's our business. We have these common interests and the cultures of the organisations are very similar." He also pointed out that Logica believes Reuters sees its collection of "very bright people" as making a valuable contribution.

But two companies do not have to be so closely allied to form such a relationship. Another of Logica's key clients, for example, is Ford. Just as with Reuters, Logica echoes the Ford set-up with offices near to the UK centre at Brentwood, Essex, as well as several in America, including Detroit, and one in Cologne, Germany.

The model can be adapted to deal with global clients," said Mr Grisoni. "A global service company is essentially a company that can co-ordinate its activities internationally but have a focus on the regions. Reuters is very good at that, which makes it a model for dealing with others."