How Do You Find the Right Partner For You?
Here are 10 key considerations for when looking at a solution to evaluate the partner and if they are right for you.
Do your due diligence but also if you have done this correctly, then you can make a decision confidently and more swiftly.
Also, be aware that if something looks too good to be true for its money – it probably is! Technology is normally priced at the value it will deliver so always remain true to your overall objectives.
Security of your clients’ sensitive data is uppermost in the era we live in – with cybercrime being so prevalent – so it is important when choosing a provider that you look at how seriously they take security.
Do they have regular penetration testing of their solution to ensure they are using the latest thinking in cyber protection? Cloud-based solutions are the most secure way of protecting data – it is much harder for a hacker to infiltrate a huge supplier of cloud solutions then it is to access your data through less secure access to your office-based equipment and software. And yet 93.3% of enterprises keep their mission-critical workloads in on-premises infrastructure (IDC).
Ask your potential providers who they use for cloud services. There are many out there that cost just a few pounds a month but don’t offer the same level of security. Don’t be shy at asking how much they spend on servers or who they use. Ask if data is encrypted during transfer, what protocols they have for back-ups of data? Where is your data stored? In the UK or further afield? Do they have any accreditations or external recognition?
2. Data Protection
In addition to the point above, how is the provider registered with the Information Data Commissioner? Is it registered for Data Protection? Who is the processor, who is the owner of the data? Has it had any GDPR breaches?
So have confidence and stay with the plan – it won’t be easy and you do need to accept that not everyone will be onboard from day one.
In technology, there are always companies popping up but then closing very quickly. Ask how long they have been around. Can you check their credit history? Check on Companies House how long they have been incorporated. What do their accounts say? Are they financially secure and growing? How many staff do they have? Are they reliant on a small development team?
Investing in technology can be very expensive. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a modern way of providers effectively renting you the software instead of charging you hundreds and thousands of pounds to develop a bespoke solution. You pay a small regular cost and the security, updating of the solution and hosting etc lies with the technology provider.
Look for solutions that you can implement quickly but ask about onboarding – how will your users familiarise themselves with the technology? Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from investing in technology and think about the return on investment you would like to see from the solution – list the problems you need to solve and how well the provider matches your requirements. Which business process is it going to help you remove ‘non-added’ value steps from? How can you eliminate or reduce the time spent re-keying? How will you measure the ROI once it is implemented? How will you invest the saved time? Have a clear plan of the value you want and how you can achieve it.
Introducing a new system will always see teething problems, there will be those in your organisation that don’t embrace change and progress, who prefer to stay doing everything in the same way they have for years. They may be afraid of trying something new and need to be able to get support when they need it.
Ask what support is available. Do you have to pay for support? Is there ongoing support you can benefit from? Can you speak to someone or do you need to wait 24, 48 hours to get an email reply?
It is important that help is available to effectively introduce the new solution but for continual professional development of the individual also.
The company may have been operating for a while but what level of experience do those developing the system have in the technology and that system? Can you be satisfied that if there are any issues within the solution, that it will be able to be fixed? Also are they experts in the field that they are providing? Or are they technology providers branching into an unknown space where they have seen an opportunity?
Look for best-in-class solutions that you can link together. The one-size-fits-all is rarely an expert in everything, so you need to evaluate the expertise in each element of the product they are providing.
Any IT service is prone to external attacks, as, with point 1, companies must do everything they can to protect against attacks, but what happens if they or you are unfortunate enough to be hit by an attack? What provision do they have in place to assist you getting back up to speed as quickly as possible?
Even the simple issue of a laptop failure that holds client data in a desktop-based solution – how will you get that back?
Ask about disaster recovery – what their protections are and how they can assist you with a failure of this kind.
Any relationship with an IT provider must be a partnership.
Are they a good listener or are they just trying to put their solution into your organisation? Have they understood your issues, your goals, your business processes?
Technology never sits still – how have they developed their service? What’s new? What are their future plans?
How can you feed into their development, so you get what you need?
You need an organisation that will listen to you and works with you for your goals.
Who does your provider currently work with?
Are they happy to provide you with reference sites or testimonials from current customers?
Don’t be afraid of asking how they communicate with you.
When are changes made to the system and how will you find out? Any downtime you may experience?
Who can you talk to other than support if you need to?
How will you be invoiced and how do you get a copy of the invoice?