Even in the dark days of pandemic and recession, technology drives growth. But in the ever-evolving tech landscape, how do you find and implement the best technologies to support and grow your business? Strategic IT partnership is the most flexible, cost–effective way to harness new tech’s growth potential.
A technology partner provides you with the tools and freedom to develop your core competency, that thing your company does better than anybody else. Here’s how to select the right tech partner for you:
Prioritize 3 Things
- Value (Over Price)
Most IT partner searches start with a specific need: something is broken and/or needs significant improvement, and you don’t have the in-house capacity to address it. Developing and implementing innovative solutions is a complex job. You don’t want to leave it to an inexperienced or ill-qualified vendor (read: lowest bidder). Bargain hunting usually ends in double-the-cost, do-over disaster. We love our rescue clients because they are so loyal and appreciative, but we highly recommend you choose wisely the first time.
Business systems and processes devolve over time. Today’s successful IT projects must meet current and future needs. They should have the ability to scale up capacity and complexity as your business grows and evolves, but don’t stop there. Your shiny, new IT solutions have to integrate with the systems and tools you use now and the ones that haven’t been developed yet. Adaptability is a must in any field changing as quickly as enterprise technology.
As we often say, there’s no ROI on technology that isn’t being used. Successful IT projects plan for user buy-in and adoption from the beginning. Establish a shared vision, strategize rollout and training. Be sure your tech partner integrates their solutions with your team’s existing processes and procedures.
Set Goals, Assemble Selection Team
With your new-found priorities in place, it’s time to identify project goals and team members that will help you audition technology partners.
You probably already have clearly defined overarching business goals. They may have led you to uncover the problem(s) you’re looking for a partner to help you solve. But before you post your RFP, we recommend a simple exercise: Write out your major business goals for this particular technology project. (You may want to do it in pencil.) This is your litmus test for moving forward. If you can’t clearly outline your project goals in this most basic format, you may not be ready for the intricacies of a tech project.
Got your goals? Now let’s make sure you have the right people at the IT partner selection table. Of course you need to include in-house IT staff, but don’t forget to include end-users. They provide critical insight into the current situation on the ground and likely have a wish list ready. C-level representation keeps long-term goals at the forefront of the selection process.
A CFO is a particularly good choice for your selection committee because s/he knows the financial big picture and probably doesn’t “speak tech.” To impress your CFO, a quality IT partner will need to exhibit strategic business experience and the ability to communicate at the highest level. Just as a surgeon explains to a patient, in plain English, what to expect as a result of surgery, an experienced IT partner will readily articulate the business advantages you’ll gain at the completion of this project (e.g., revenue growth, streamlined operations, improved client communication, etc.).
Look for 7 Essential Criteria
You’re ready to start searching for that perfect IT partner. If you need help developing your RFP, this CIO checklist will ensure you include enough about who you are and what you need.
Here are the 7 qualities to look for in a technology partner:
- Impeccable Character
This IT consultancy will become an extension of your company. They will learn the ins and outs of your business and advocate for your best interests. You need to trust them implicitly. Make sure their values and beliefs align with yours and your company cultures match. Mind Over Machines has carefully codified core values and keeps them at the forefront of all we do.
- Solid Experience
IT projects come in all different shapes and sizes. You want a company that has been doing your type of project for years. They should have a wealth of knowledge about what you’re trying to accomplish and how to get there. They are supposed to be experts; make sure they are.
- Familiarity with Your Industry
A good-fit IT partner will be familiar with your type of business and the industry in which you operate. It’s not the end of the world if they aren’t, as long as they ask the right questions to understand what you do and how a new IT solution will impact your existing systems. But a steep learning curve is never optimal. Over our 30-year history, our MINDs have consulted in a wide range of industries.
- Enthusiastic References
Ideally, you don’t want to hear from just any happy clients; you want references and case studies specific to the type of project you are undertaking. Any established company will eagerly offer them up. Calling references isn’t just a formality; it’s crucial due diligence. Don’t be satisfied with, “They were great!” Push for constructive criticism; even the best have room for improvement.
- Transparent Planning
Prospective IT partners should provide a detailed plan for how they will accomplish implementing your project. The plan should include regular meetings, requirements gathering, and build specifications. It is your shared blueprint for success.
- Project Management Protocol
Experienced IT consultancies know how to manage for transparency and accountability. They will explain how your project will be managed and who will be serving as the project manager. In most cases, this should be a different person than the developer(s). That may seem like an extra cost, but it’s the exact opposite. Skilled oversight keeps the project headed in the right direction, protecting you and insuring your investment.
- Agile Longevity
Lastly, a major indicator of a successful consultancy is how long they’ve been in business. The tech sector revolutionizes every couple years, whether it needs to or not. Longevity speaks to a tech company’s ability to adapt, reinvent, and move with the times. You want a partner with a solid history and its finger on the pulse of what’s to come, so they can design and implement your project to be ready for whatever the future may bring.
Partner to Transform
In 2020, digital transformation is no longer just a buzzword; it’s essential for survival. It is human-centric automation and data-informed insight. It’s finding new ways to work smarter and beat the competition. But you can’t do it alone. A strategic technology partner provides the technical expertise you need to optimize operations now and over the long haul.
For 30+ years, Mind Over Machines has weathered every storm, consulted in most every industry, embraced change and harnessed innovation to make technology work for people. Our job is to help you do your job, better. If you think we may have complementary core competencies, let’s start a conversation. This could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.