But while you know how to use and manage your existing IT infrastructure, that’s only one piece of the puzzle. For example:
- Are you also familiar with all of the technology trends in your industry?
- How do you know that you have the best possible solution?
- Who can you trust to give the kind of technology advice that will keep you ahead of the curve?
- If you need to change technologies, who can help you?
Hiring an IT guru in-house is one way of getting the expertise you need, but it is expensive, and it can also be hard to keep the good ones.
Another solution is to set up a technology partnership to provide you with specialist advice and assistance, freeing you up to work on your core business and concentrate on growth.
So how do you go about finding the right technology partner? Here are nine factors to consider.
1. Experience matters
Is your potential partner experienced in the kind of technical issues and opportunities that you are facing? It need not be in your exact industry sector, but your partner should have a track record in solving similar issues. Who do they in turn partner with and why? Are they jumping on a current tech fad, or do they have a deep understanding of the new technology and the team to support it?
2. It’s all about the team
Who leads the teams, and how are they structured? Does their structure and way of working mesh with your own internal culture? Can you build a lasting, effective relationship with them?
3. Who will actually do your work?
That impressive team that pitches for your business may quickly disappear, never to be seen again once you sign the contract. Find out who will actually be doing your work and talk to them before signing up.
4. How do they keep up-to-date?
You are hiring a technology partner to give you the latest advice. Find out how they keep themselves abreast of the latest developments.
5. Generalists or specialists
Are your potential partners recognised specialists in a particular field, or are they generalists? Does this suit you? Do they say they are perfect at everything or do they know what they are good at and stick to it? Do you believe them?
6. How are staff measured – turnover / complaints / outcomes
It’s important to know how your potential partners bonus their employees. Is on turnover, lack of complaints, technical excellence or positive customer outcomes? Does this change your assessment?
7. How do others view them: good, bad or indifferent?
Trust in your potential partner is key. Talk to existing clients, look at public testimonials and their social media sites. Are they well regarded in the industry?
8. Do they know what can be done properly for your budget
Talk about budgets and deliverables up-front. Let them know what you have to spend and what you expect to be delivered for that budget. Watch out for scope creep on your side and budget padding on theirs.
9. Are you in their sweet spot?
Your potential partner runs a business too, so they have needs and expectations of their own. It’s important to find out if what they want in a customer meshes with what you need in a partner.
- Are you the right size for them? If you are too big, they probably don’t have the resources to service you. If you are too small, maybe you won’t get the attention you deserve.
- Do you have the right-sized budget? Are they delighted with the level of your budget, or will they be constantly upselling you?
- Will they truly value your company as a customer or are you just filling up their sales pipeline? This is important – you need to be special to them in some way.
The right technology partner can help you grow your business to new heights by providing highly valuable technical insights and expertise, and letting you get on with what you do best.
A good cultural fit, a shared set of expectations and a passion for doing the best is what both parties should be looking for in a technology partnership.