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PHOTO: Yme Bosma

The top technology implementation challenges include change management, data, quality, business requirements and poor implementation tactics, according to a survey by Forbes and Deloitte. Choosing the right technology partner is critical when you consider these challenges. Further, the rising costs of software implementations like those with Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) make it even more important to find the right tech partner. Gartner found that through 2021, 90 percent of global organizations will rely on system integrators (SIs), agencies and channel partners to design, build and implement their digital experience strategies (payment required).

“A great technology implementation partner will know exactly what the organization’s specific needs and challenges are, and organizations can vet this based on the questions the potential partner asks early on in the process before any type of implementation begins,” said Steve Stover, VP of products and strategy, at ITSM SolarWinds. “By asking specific questions about the implementer’s infrastructure, security, performance and support offerings, to name a few, users can ensure the provider’s answers align with its mission and business model.”

Know The Individual Employees’ Needs

What else matters in selecting the right technology partner, whether it's for a digital workplace or digital experience technology? A lot, if you ask Hertz. Remember, it was only about seven months ago that Hertz ended up suing Accenture for $32 million for a bad implementation-partner experience

The provider needs to know which employees are benefiting from the technology: their daily tasks, frustrations, what they like about the current system and what they don’t like, according to Stover. “The goal is to ultimately set employees up for success using the technology, so the provider should be in on this goal as well. Without having a full view of the organization and its employees’ needs, it won’t be possible for the implementer to understand how to help the user and develop a completely mutual and growing partnership.”  

Related Article: 10 Lessons Learned from Hertz's $32M Web Design Lawsuit Against Accenture

Find a Technology/Platform-Agnostic Partner

Paul Michelotti, director and solutions architect at Avionos, which does software implementations, said being technology agnostic means being able to step back far enough to gain a full understanding of how to reach customers’ goals and achieve their needs through the technology they implement. “Companies,” he said, “will likely have platform partnerships, but they should also maintain a broad understanding of the market and the concerns that each platform addresses, while understanding any external factors, like costs, associated with each option.” 

Some may argue to consider partners that knows the ins and outs of a particular software, which is why many fish for these partners at vendor conferences like Dreamforce, HubSpot’s INBOUND and the Adobe Summit, for instance. These vendors tout their partner network at the shows.

Look for Partners Who Think Beyond the Implementation

Any developer with a laptop can set up your company’s site, but it takes a partner to help you unlock revenue streams and improve customer loyalty. “Look for a partner with a thoughtful process that clearly expresses both sides' responsibilities at each phase of the program to drive the most success,” Michelotti said. “If you’re looking to do a CMS implementation, it’s important to find a partner with a perspective on how the CMS fits into the broader marketing ecosystem and what problems it solves, not just a partner that happens to know how to implement Drupal.” 

What is the partner's perspective on what comes next after the initial engagement? How does this align with your overall goals? Is a partner providing training on how to author web pages or are they providing enablement on how to increase qualified leads through the web channel? “All of these questions need to be answered when deciding which partner should be used for technology implementation,” Michelotti said. 

Related Article: 6 Questions to Ask a Potential Integrations Firm Partner

Past Track Record Counts

Lindsay Mayer, who in past roles assisted in project management for SAP-related technology projects, said tech buyers should look at the technology implementation partner’s track record with previous clients and the reputation of the company in their field. This is not just looking at a number of similar projects they’ve completed but the number of successful projects they’ve completed, Mayer said. 

Is Your Team Ready for the Partner’s Style?

How do you know you have the right fit? Finding the “right fit” also means analyzing your own time and resources. If the partner proposes using an Agile methodology and your business users don’t have the time to participate in workshops during the week, the project is going to fall off track, according to Mayer. “Determining the right fit means making sure your own project teams are available and willing to dedicate a certain portion of their work week to the project,” Mayer added. “If you’re the client-side project manager or director, ask what kind of time commitment the partner will require of your own resources. This will save you many headaches down the road.”

Related Article: 3 Things to Look For When Hiring a Systems Integrator Firm

Make Sure Your Teams Fully Understand Their Roles

Ensure that your project is structured and understood by all project teams the first week of the project, Mayer suggested. “This means putting in the hours to create well-defined rules of engagement: clear project objectives per phase, roles and responsibilities, a communication structure and even informal expectations,” she said. “Then communicate these rules to all teams involved. A project team must speak the same project language: understand the objective and what is expected of them. Don't assume that this will happen naturally. All second-languages must be taught and learned.”

Be Understanding of Tech Partner Setbacks

Projects involve a high degree of problem-solving, especially when it comes to implementing new technology. “Give your partner room to make a few mistakes, and be willing to help them problem-solve when mistakes happen,” Mayer said. “Tempers can escalate in high-stakes situations. Try to avoid pointing fingers during executive committees and use that time instead productively: for finding solutions to unblock issues and move the project forward.”

What's Their Communication Method, Investment Plan?

Tech buyers should also know the way an implementation partner prefers to communicate (frequency and method), personal relationships they may have at the C-suite level in your own company and lastly budget. 

“What’s even more important than budget, I would argue, is how the partner plans to ‘invest’ it,” Mayer said. “This means what resources and technologies are they using to respond to your need, and over what type of timeline.”