5 key considerations when choosing a technology partner
When shopping for a comprehensive SAAS (Software as a Service), ERP (Enterprise Resource Programme), or MRP (Materials Resource Planning )software solution, one must spend considerable amounts of time evaluating online reviews, assessments, and certifications before committing to a product. The best return on investment comes from finding a service provider who knows what they are doing. But how does a prospective client know that the service provider is knowledgeable and will add invaluable input to the company?
The right partnership will be key to your future scale and success. It is important to find someone who shares your values and vision, regardless of cost. Of course, for every company, the right technical partner will be different. In the 9 years of TotalControlPro’s process expertise and working with clients on diverse types of projects, there are certain crucial points and questions never to be overlooked.
The 5 key considerations outlined below are;
- Knowledge vs Expertise
- Testimonials and References
- Product Quality and Pricing
- Commitment to client success
- Aligned and shared values
Knowledge vs Expertise
While hiring a technical partner, you must look for their expertise over knowledge as your project is likely to benefit more from their proven experience than from their vast knowledge.
Furthermore, a technology company should have relevant industry expertise that will contribute to the company’s success. Technology advances are huge and fast but not every technological advancement applies to your business. It is important to ascertain what product/service needs to keep accelerating and what value the partner can give in this regard.
Your potential technical partner should be able to provide the following things to you in terms of expertise:
- Guidance throughout the journey and suggestions on innovative solutions.
- Expertise in your specific needs. If the technical partner hasn’t worked on similar projects, but their specialisation matches your needs, they may be an excellent fit for your project.
- An intrinsic understanding of your business and goals.
- Are they equally interested in your project and can think out of the box?
2. Testimonials and references
Where are they now? The number of years of operation is a good indicator of proficiency but nothing beats hearing/ reading what their clients have to say about the prospect. One can visit specialised websites and platforms, such as Capterra and develop a preliminary list of companies that:
- Have detailed positive reviews focused on solving the client’s problems? Concentrate on the context of the reviews and not just the numbers.
- Provide the technical services you require. Understanding the prospective partner’s specialist areas is key.
Additionally, review the potential partner’s website and their Testimonials, References, Case Studies and Project portfolio (if they have one) and eliminate all but 3 or 4 vendors that meet these requirements:
- Their website provides all data necessary for you to decide, such as the fields of expertise, client base, the number of completed projects, industries, and contacts.
- Resources, including Case studies and testimonials of previous projects that clearly show their approaches to solving problems and how they have solved problems like yours or work in the same niche. Having worked on relevant projects, the company will suggest the best approach, processes, and solutions for your business challenges.
At TotalControlPro® we understand that selecting innovative technology for your digital manufacturing process can be a minefield and have our case studies and blogs together in one place to give you the certainty that we have this, we have done it before. Built by Manufacturers for Manufacturers.
3. Product/ Service Quality and Pricing
Service and product quality are crucial as are the costs incurred in investing in the product and services. You ideally want to get the most cost-effective service that can make 2-3x times more return on investment (ROI).
- Does the cost justify the service and support provided?
- Do they suggest alternative and cost-effective approaches and resources?
- Are the pricing estimations clear and transparent? This should include the scope for potential iterations during the project.
- What support do they offer after go-live?
Investing in your technology partner is also investing in the core of your company. Make sure you choose the best value for your company and not just the cheapest price on offer. Therefore, even when numbers are higher than initially expected, but the partner in question inspires confidence as well as a good working model, you should go for a partnership with them. Pricing is only one component of the entire puzzle.
4. Commitment to client’s success
Are they providing long-term value, not just short-term fixes? Often, partners can make a massive difference to a business straight away. Your technology partner should be able to identify short-term wins as well as a longer-term strategy for you right from the beginning.
The company that knows what they do will provide you with a detailed work plan for your project and describe every stage of the development. Moreover, they will constantly update you on the progress and will give you access to a task-tracking system and other project management tools, so you can easily follow the sprints and provide your feedback.
Service Level Agreements (SLA) can serve to understand the level of commitment from both parties. An SLA is a contractual document that acts as an ongoing reference point for service and reliability expectations, like uptime guarantees, response times for issues, and resolutions for downtime.
A professionally written SLA should cover this, however, ensure the below is covered;
- A description of the scope of the work to be performed under the agreement
- An issue/resolution statement, or what the solution is to provide or resolve
- Level of service to be provided
- Service performance roles and responsibilities of the supplier
- Service availability including Guaranteed uptimes, Downtime resolution
- Data security
- The process by which a customer notifies a supplier of changing needs
- Payment term responsibilities
- Contract management I.e., Renewal processes, Pricing changes, Escalation procedures, and other changes to the SLA
- Indemnifications I.e., Limitations of liability, Governing laws
- Cancellation terms
A well-defined process that is clear and allows you to track progress throughout the whole development cycle is a win.
5. Aligned and shared values
The list of qualified partners should be quite short once you have established your priorities, goals, and execution strategies. To ensure smooth collaboration, both parties need to be compatible in terms of culture and work style.
However, many companies are unsure of what questions to ask when it comes to tech team culture. Here are a few;
- What communication tools does the team use and are they different from yours?
- How often and at what depth does the team want to share feedback?
- Does the organisation promote continuous learning?
These answers can reveal to what extent the company encourages growth and innovation and how the organisational structure can be a complement or a hindrance to projects. A flatter company structure is often a good indicator that those working on the project will take the initiative and approach issues proactively throughout the project duration.
Choosing the right technology partner for your business can be the difference between success and failure. That choice can have implications on time, money, and overall success. TotalControlPro® helps manufacturers make these choices regularly. Take the above considerations into account ahead of your next project and contact us.
TotalControlPro® brings real-time cloud-based AI/Machine Learning technology to manufacturers via a simple modular and agile Smart Manufacturing platform – a disruptive subscription-based platform that delivers smart work planning, execution, process control, inventory management and real-time performance reporting. Right resources at the right place, at the right time, doing the right task, against the right job.