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By Adrian Amore, Services Director, IComm
Technology development, innovation and evolution is happening at an ever increasing pace, making it more important than ever before for businesses to bring in the experts to ensure they are integrating the right technology in the right way. The right technology partner can help you successfully along your technology upgrade journey to keep your business ahead of the curve. While choosing the wrong partner can leave you with the wrong technology, and sometimes with technology more inefficient than its predecessor.
As a result, organisations are increasingly outsourcing managed services, with a survey from Logicalis of 177 CIOs across 24 countries finding that almost half (47 percent) want the majority of their IT services to be provided by managed or external service providers.
However, not all integration partners offer the same skills, experience or specialisation. This means businesses need to choose the right partner for their business type and individual needs. The success or failure of a technology upgrade project relies to a large extent on the type of partner employed. Organisations should look for a partner that has extensive experience in the organisation’s field, as well as the technologies being deployed. The right partner will also be there at every stage along the change management path, from planning right through to post-deployment.
So, how do you go about selecting a partner who is the right fit and won’t lead to you wasting precious time and money on a failed upgrade? Here are seven steps to think about.
Make a Clear List of Your Organisation’s Needs Before Approaching Partners The more detailed an organisation can be about their business processes and IT requirements, the better opportunity you give potential partners to explain what they can offer. If end users, along with the IT department and management, are not consulted to map out requirements in all sections of an organisation, the system upgrade is very likely to go over budget and not be delivered in the desired timeframe. This kind of result occurs when an organisation signs up for a new IT system that isn’t a good fit, which leads to costly add on solutions and customisation work.
Check Potential Partners’ Experience
Undertaking due diligence is vital when choosing a new partner. It’s important to look past marketing and sales buzzwords to enquire whether potential partners can provide examples of the kind of work they have done in the technology integration space in the past. Ideally their track record should include implementations that are of similar scope and with organisations of similar size to yours, as well as show a high level of experience with the technologies to be integrated.
Past Customer Successes
Businesses should ask for references from other clients who have worked with potential partner. It’s a good idea to ask for at least three references and if possible to set up a chat with them about their integration project and their experience with the potential partner.
“By using the right specialist integrator to support the project, businesses can be confident of delivering the best outcome”
There for the Unexpected
Technology upgrades don’t always go to plan during or post integration. Therefore, it is vital that you choose a partner you know will be on hand and able to offer various types of support when any unexpected issues arise. This should include 24/7 phone support so that you don’t have to wait hours or even days for help resolving issues with business critical systems. Quick issues resolution will help your business avoid lost productivity, reputation or profits that can be associated with drawn-out IT outages. Contact aside from urgent issues should also be agreed, such as how often to meet, how quickly non-urgent queries will be responded to, as well as non-critical technical issues.
Get to Know the People You will Work Directly with
Requesting that all staff who will be involved in the technology upgrade project are introduced to you before any contracts are signed will ensure you get to know the team you will work directly with. Of course staff turnover is inevitable, however being in a position to get a feel for the people you will work with and how they fit with your business’ culture avoids any issues down the track. It also means partners will be much less inclined to present staff who they can’t guarantee will be there for the entire project.
How Interested are They in Your Business?
Equally important to finding out whether your partner’s team fits with your business culture, is exploring how interested they are in spending time getting familiar with and understanding your business. Are they confident in answering questions around how they can tailor their offering to the unique needs of your business? Or are they instead preoccupied with doing exactly the same thing as they did on their last technology integration?
Understanding the Contract
Ensuring you understand exactly what a partner will deliver for the quoted price is very important, not least of all in comparing potential partners. This should also include any ongoing or future payments, as well as additional software or hardware costs.
Getting it Right the First Time By using the right specialist integrator to support the project, businesses can be confident of delivering the best outcome. It pays to invest time and effort in selecting the right partner for your business. An upgrade project can go wrong without the right people, expertise and approach. Using a detailed partner selection process can ensure you pick the right partner and technology the first time.
ICOMM provides consulting services to small and large corporations in integrated unified communications, IT and cloud services. ICOMM is a Microsoft Gold Partner and a leading Skype for Business and Microsoft 365 specialist