Hardly any business can thrive without technology today.
Think about your email and internet service provider, your telephony system, and any bespoke applications and hardware your enterprise needs to help your business take orders, deal with support requests and remain competitive.
But to find the right technology for your business, you need to do research. You have to find technology partners.
The scary fact is that picking a technology partner can be the best or worst thing you do for your business.
You could find the perfect partner that’s a dream to work with, or be saddled with a group of people who don’t respond to your request, are hard to get hold of, do shoddy work and end up costing your business money.
In this blog post, I share five questions that you should ask yourself before choosing your next technology partner. We’ll look at business age, track record, solution appeal, support and industry experience.
1. How long have they been in business for?
Business age may appear to be a criterion that most people would overlook, and many often do. However, there’s a good reason why knowing the age of a business is vital: older businesses are still around because they have a winning formula and can support themselves.
Don’t get me wrong; every business begins as a startup in need of their first client, but very few businesses make it through the early days.
Startups fail for a myriad of reasons: they can’t find the right customer-product fit, the founders aren’t skilled enough to deliver, some mismanage their finances or cannot scale and end up closing their doors, leaving paying customers lost and confused.
If you’re hedging your bets on a newcomer, you need to do more homework (see the next point) on why they are the best option.
2. Do they have the right experience, qualifications or unique insight?
Newcomers often have more attractive offers than established brands, but that’s due to their hunger to grow at a rapid rate.
If you find a startup’s offer appealing, and can’t find anything better on the market, make sure that they are qualified and have the experience to help see your vision through.
The best startups are built by people who have unique insights, experience or qualifications that help them deliver results continuously.
Be certain that your newcomer can deliver.
3. What do existing customers think of them?
There’s a reason why testimonials work so well: they’re social proof and prospects respect the words of customers who’ve faced similar challenges to theirs and came out on the other end successful.
When you look at testimonials, don’t just take the words on a website as gospel. Instead, contact the provider and ask for names and contact numbers of customers they’ve worked with.
A call with a current or former customer will give you a more realistic account of how the technology partner handles relationships and supports their products.
4. What makes their offer most appealing?
You most likely have a list of your requirements for a solution, but before you pull the trigger, make sure you do so for the right reasons. Here are a few thoughts on pricing and integrating technology into your business:
Cheaper isn’t always better
Technology sales pitches are littered with promises of the moon and results that never really measure up. What may be cheap now could be more expensive down the line.
Be sure to go through all deliverables with a fine-tooth comb to make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises awaiting you.
Integrations take time
IT project management is not for the faint hearted. According to McKinsey and the University of Oxford, 17% of IT projects are so poorly managed that they end up threatening the existence of the company.
Make sure that your prospective technology partner has a proven integration plan. If staff training is required, ensure that it’s covered in the proposal.
5. Do they offer support?
Rolling out new technology is bound to cause confusion in your business, which is why you need to know how to get help for anything and everything that could go wrong with the new solution.
Ensure that support is covered in the offers you’re considering. Clarify levels of support, exclusions and inclusions, as well as additional costs should there be any.
Finding the right technology partner can be daunting as there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach because every business is different. But if you do your due diligence and scrutinize the age of the business, what makes them qualified to deliver the solution, what their customers think of them, why a certain solution is better than another, and what post sales support is available, you stand a better chance of selecting the best partner for the job.
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