Getting "hitched" to an implementation provider can be like a marriage;you want a partner that is committed to you and your business goals for the long-term. That partner will need to understand and support your needs and desires from a business perspective, but also be willing to push back and tell you some painful truths you may not want to hear. Although cost is always a consideration, it should not be the only one. You’ll need to be selective and ask all the right questions before saying “I Do”.
A few things to think about before making a commitment:
Don’t rush into anything
This is a long-term partnership, so you don’t want to just pick any old company without getting to know each other first. A good partner will give you the time and space to ask questions. Talk to their references and get comfortable with potentially working together. Find a partner that has proven long-term relationships with clients; customers stay with partners that listen to their needs and adapt for overall customer satisfaction.
Do take a step back before you move forward
You need to properly evaluate the needs of your company. Take a step back and think about your goals and what you want to accomplish. You need to ask yourself some critical questions first and based on the answers, you can proceed towards evaluating and comparing different partners.
Do get to know the family
It’s important to know the principles, and equally important to get a feel for the people who you will be working with on a day to day basis. Who is the project manager? The Account Manager? The Designer and UX architect? These are the people you and your team will be working with on a regular basis so don’t be afraid to get to know them. How often will you meet? Daily? Weekly? Make sure you are going to be working with the team that not only understands your needs and goals but can execute them.
Don’t judge based on company size alone
The size of the project matters but the size of the company is not automatically an indicator of success. Many companies tout having thousands of employees worldwide, but many of those employees are off shore resources and contracted out and are therefore not vested in the success of your project or your business. If you are implementing a large global project, you’ll want a partner that has the bench strength to perform multiple streams of work, and one that has the geographic coverage in the countries to which you are deploying.
Do dig a little deeper
Go beyond the partners website. Look at other sites, including social media profiles, to get a real sense of who the company is and what their culture is like. What are former employees saying on sites like Glassdoor? Is their LinkedIn page filled with nothing but fluff? Does the agency seem to be involved in educational events? Does the company give back to the technology community? Are they well respected or do they have a bad rep? Don’t be afraid to address red flags or behaviors you may not ultimately be comfortable with. If something looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You do not have to accept proposals if you think they are not realistic or if they sound too grandiose. An honest and reputable agency will give you an honest opinion and evaluation.
Do be transparent
What is the agency suggesting for your business and why? Do their suggestions meet and/or exceed your expectations? Have they taken the time and done the homework to get to know your business, pain points, and competition before putting a proposal in front of you? If they haven't taken the time to get to know your business needs, it could suggest they're just offering a standard proposal which is less likely to meet your expectations or help you to achieve your long-term objectives.
If you want to implement Drupal or Sitecore, for example, and your prospective partner doesn’t have much experience or knowledge about the platform, then move on. Knowing what you want in a partner is half the battle. Figure out some top characteristics or attributes that you are looking for and make sure that your partner can fill those needs before you even get started.
Do meet in person
Never hire or accept a proposal if you’ve only communicated through email or via conference calls. Meet face to face, discuss all the details, and then make your final decision.
Do make sure you like them
Does the team appear to get along with each other? Are there disconnects between what each person is saying or does everyone appear to be on the same page? Do you like their culture as an organization? You will be working with this group for months or even years; it’s important that they are likeable and a good fit for your organization.
Do make sure they are well rounded
You may just need a design team or a development team now, but hiring a robust team that combines design, UX, and development, and can deliver end-to-end solutions will enhance the value of the relationship in the long term.
Bottom line- You need to find a partner that connects with your brands personality and business style but is also affordable and in tune with your industry and long-term business needs.
If you want to chat more about commitment feel free to drop me a line or learn more about what Hedgehog can offer.