3 Signs That a Partnership Is Complementary

Steven Franklin, Product Marketing Manager

The ideal business partnership is a healthy relationship that adds value and encourages growth. A successful partnership that comes to mind is the recently announced Microsoft and CVS Health partnership. For this partnership, CVS Health is better able to personalize services by leveraging data and technology, while Microsoft gains access to a healthcare provider that will help them continue to deliver innovative solutions. Through their partnership, CVS Health and Microsoft aim to improve healthcare delivery and overall patient wellness.


In reflecting on what makes business (and personal) partnerships successful, one word stands out: complementary. Merriam-Webster defines "complement" as “something that fills up, completes, or makes better or perfect.”

We can better understand what to look for in a healthy and complementary partnership by breaking down the three key parts of the definition.

Something that fills up

In its most basic form, a partnership allows both parties to gain something they lack—it fills up something that is empty. In CVS Health/Microsoft example, CVS Health’s missing piece was effective data use. Now CVS is able to use their vast amounts of data to offer consumer-driven services.

In a business sense, "filling up" might be simply defined as one party gaining payment and the other party gaining a good or service, but that’s only a small part of the “filling up.” The “filling up” in complementary relationships also includes the service, communication, and joint desire for success. By combining all these aspects, the gap is filled and the partners develop a strong relationship.


Complementary partnerships complete a piece of the puzzle you need to be successful. CVS Health wanted to better leverage data, and the Microsoft partnership allows them to work towards that goal.

Let’s face it, you're entering into a partnership because the other party offers something that you either can't do or that would be prohibitively expensive for you to do. By completing the puzzle, the value your partner offers is greater than the sum of the parts.

Makes better or perfect

Complementary relationships should always make things better for your organization. For CVS Health offering their patients better and more customized care means they’re more customer-focused than ever before.

Often there's a big difference between “good” and “perfect” when you select a business partner. Simple partnerships may make things better, while complementary partnerships push your business as close to perfect as reasonably possible.


What are the signs of a healthy and complementary business partnership?

1. Good communication

First off, open and honest communication between partners is the foundation of a solid partnership. You should expect good communication around:

  • Changes. Change communication should be regularly published and with enough time that you can adapt to the change before it becomes an issue.
  • Regular touchpoints. Regular touchpoints are often a necessity and should be scheduled if needed.
  • Clear points of contact. You should know how to get help and who needs to be involved in various scenarios.

2. Expertise

The second sign of a healthy complementary partnership is that the partner is an expert where you are not. The main reason you're partnering is to gain expertise from the partner that you don’t have yourself. Any company you partner with should have a proven track record of doing what they do best.

Signs that a partner is an expert in their field:

  • They have deep knowledge related to their field that's hard to duplicate.
  • They do something you can't replicate without heavy investment.
  • They have other partnerships with well-respected companies.

3. Investment in success

A third sign of a complementary partnership is the partner should be invested in your long-term success. They should have a vision and clearly communicate that vision to your organization.

Signs that a partner is invested in your success:

  • They share their plan for where the partnership will lead, and they include specific goals and milestones.
  • They structure contract specifics for the long term.

Healthwise has a strong track record of partnering with some of the largest organizations in healthcare today to provide award-winning patient education content. Contact us to discuss our services and how we can partner today for a healthier tomorrow.