Business Partner Selection Checklist

As projects go, implementing new technologies is up there with the most complex, so it pays to have an experienced Business Partner to ensure you achieve the efficiencies without the headaches, ensuring minimal delays. From setting out new business processes to onsite training, through to optimising business strategy around the new tools, a trusted resource will be the rock-solid foundation you need.

Likewise, the power of the checklist is well established as academics have dedicated their lives to understanding the perfect structure for a tick-box (we kid you not!).

Checklists provide a proactive way of motivating us. Furthermore, it’s been said that creating a checklist can make us more successful, by making us more efficient and helping us avoid costly mistakes.

In his book, “The Checklist Manifesto”, Atul Gawande, MD explains that using a checklist can improve your performance and help you achieve more consistent results. “They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit,” he states. In his own experience, Gawande’s team introduced a two-minute checklist to eight hospitals as part of a research study in 2008, in which case deaths dropped 47%.

Now, we’re not saying our checklist will save lives, but it could significantly improve your ability to identify the right business partner.

While many consultants will sing their own praises, cite case studies, and offer nonspecific advice as to why they are your match made in heaven, you must devise the checklist prior to procurement. This allows you to remain objective, to measure each prospect against the same set of criteria, and above all, to avoid the distracting sirens of the sales pitch who deviate from the fundamentals and lure you with their song.

So, to help you identify your perfect IT Partner, we have devised the ultimate business partner checklist formula.

The #1 Business Partner Checklist

Are They an Industry Specialist?

Find a partner who has experience in your industry. Prospects will inundate you with examples of their past performance, but this remains largely irrelevant if there is no demonstrable success that relates to the specific business problems you face.

What to ask:

  • Do they have experience in your industry?
  • Does the prospective partner have any references you can cross-check?
  • Do they hold up against the industry standard?
  • Have they won any awards or gained any recognition from an authoritative body?

Are They Credible?

Hiring a Business Partner means welcoming in an outsider. This is a major step and one which requires a huge leap of faith. Ensuring your technical partner understands how your business works – as well as how they must fit within the organisation – is vital.

Spend time shortlisting prospects and be sure to invest effort into establishing a relationship prior to making any commitment. This allows the scope to understand the credibility of the partner, to test their ability as a support resource and to establish if you can trust what they are saying throughout the sales process.

What to ask:

  • Where do they receive most of their reviews – LinkedIn, Facebook, Trustpilot, Google?
  • Can they send over any case studies?
  • Do they have any industry certifications?
  • Are they ISO certified?
  • Are they registered with the ICO?

Do They Offer Business Support?

A Business Partner should not only focus on seamless integration, but they should also provide a continual service that ensures the smooth ongoing operation of the solution.
Inquire if your partner will not only hand-hold through the initial phase of the project but also remain on-call to provide strategic assistance, process optimisation and goal-specific advice that will add measurable value over the long-term.

Partners at the forefront of their industries will offer progressive ways of thinking that not only showcase the most efficient way to use existing technologies but also link directly to your current strategy as much as your future goals. The result? A positive impact on your bottom line.

What to ask:

  • Do they offer ongoing support?
  • Do they offer an ‘out of hours’ support contract?
  • Do they have a detailed SLA you can review before deciding?
  • Can they provide on-site training?

What Development & Customisation Services Do They Offer?

When it comes to software, most solutions are feature-rich; however, few technologies will resolve all your business needs. Enlisting a partner who offers developer services allows you to customise the solution to meet bespoke business needs.

Whether it be automating labor-intensive tasks to free up resource elsewhere, or integrating with a separate piece of internal software, this level of flexibility can be integral to unlocking the true value of the solution.

What to ask:

  • What software features are available?
  • Do they have in-house developers that are able to provide a wide range of customisations?
  • Will their solution integrate with the software and applications you currently use?
  • Is there anything they can’t do?

Can they Offer Flexibility in Deployment?

Businesses must remain agile, so seek Business Partners who offer a range of deployment options that support this ambition.
If your partner can offer a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and guarantee a level of flexibility that fits the requirements of a lean, innovative organisation, the likelihood is that you will find it simpler and more cost-effective when deploying emergent initiatives in the future.

What to ask:

  • What options do they offer – Do they offer SaaS, on-premise or cloud deployments?
  • Which would they recommend for you?
  • Can they provide you with a deployment methodology?

Are They A Force for Innovation?

To remain competitive, suppliers and customers alike must maintain a constant feedback loop to ensure all parties stay at the forefront of their industry. Be sure to check your partner is committed to an ongoing, transparent relationship that will help keep both businesses ahead of their competitors, with enough knowledge-share to enhance the value of the relationship.

What to ask:

  • How will they communicate with you?
  • Will they inform you of new innovative ways of working? How?
  • Do they provide webinars?
  • Do they blog regularly?
  • Are they featured on relevant industry websites?
  • Will you have a dedicated account manager?

Prior to engaging any prospective Business Partners, establish the core competencies that are important to your own business. Have our checklist at the ready, so when it comes to reviewing suppliers, you know exactly when the shoe fits.

Checklist Success

When picking a partner, ensure you can answer the following:

  • Do you know what your perfect partner looks like?
  • What specific values do you prize?
  • What are your business objectives?

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