Wesley Phillips of Hunter Barth, an advertising and marketing agency in Irvine, Calif., was surprised to hear employees gripe about the strategic partnerships he'd formed with market-research, direct-marketing, and public-relations agencies. "They would get angry if projects went slowly, and they didn't always use the new partners when there were opportunities to," says Phillips, whose company projects $7 million in 1996 sales. He found things improved once he put systems in place to promote harmony. One example: he asked the partners to adapt to his company's way of doing business by making requests in writing and sending finished work on disks compatible with Hunter Barth's software. Other changes included holding regular meetings between his employees and the partners' staff as well as having the two groups make joint presentations to customers. "The result is a more effective marketing program," says Phillips, "and using outside resources is becoming second nature for my staff."