When hiring a systems integrator firm and/or implementation partner to help with your IT projects, ongoing operations and infrastructure, there are a few things to keep in mind.
You will of course need to know your hiring criteria: geographically local, number of certifications the IT professionals hold, a personal connection that yields a comfortable feeling, the number of references the firm can provide or the number of years the systems integrator has been in business. While these are important factors, there is really only one question that needs to be answered: do you want IT projects implemented so they work or do you want a systems integration firm that brings technical expertise as well as an ability to translate IT implementation projects into results that progress your business goals and performance targets?
The first approach assures that you have the pieces of your orange, the second means you have a complete, seamless, holistic orange.
Another factor in deciding what firm to hire might be whether they specialize in massive implementation projects that have the capacity to transform the organization (or even industry) and require process management consulting or whether they are niche-specific in their work, offering better flexibility and more personalized attention. The size of your organization may make that decision as well as, for example, a multinational systems integrator firm is simply too much (and, therefore, wasted resources) for a small to mid-sized business.
3 Factors to Look for in an Integrator Firm
The following three factors are critical when hiring a systems integrator firm and/or implementation partner for your IT projects and operations.
1. Up to Date Knowledge
Problems, challenges, issues and failures are not typically due to a lack of knowledge about software. Understanding software is basic criteria for hiring any IT professional so that is not a differentiator for any implementation project. However, understanding the specific system, and its most recent version, potential pitfalls and additional third-party apps, is a good differentiator for the firm you consider hiring.
2. Established Processes
Experienced IT integrator firms typically have a business process in place to implement a project. This kind of process ensures consistency in results achievements according to milestones, objectives and activities. Given it’s likely their IT experts have a wide variety of experience, having this type of process in place means efficiency in meeting customer expectations. And, since this framework gets results, it means it is proven and there should be reference customers and case studies to demonstrate its efficacy.
3. Business Acumen
IT integrator firms need to understand the greater business environment, including performance goals and targets, that contribute to project success. This includes non-technical factors, like protocols, project governance, business process management, organizational change, training, post-implementation planning, staff adoption and buy-in from leadership. If the emphasis is on checklists, configurations, big data flow charts on strictly technical activities, the bigger picture is not being considered. The non-technical factors can derail a project just as quickly, if not even more so, than technical challenges.
Related Article: 7 Considerations for IT's Never-Ending Integration Challenges
Beyond Just the Technology
A good systems integrator firm knows technology. A great systems integrator firm understands relationships and business as well as technology. By working with a systems integrator who meets your organization where it is in terms of staff, expectations and desired business outcomes will increase overall efficiency and deliver measurable results on multiple levels.