Finding a True Project and Product Partner

Consider your software vendor’s partnership qualities and their fit with your culture.

One of the key aspects that separates successful project implementations from the disappointments is the degree of compatibility that exists between client and vendor. In failed projects, internal client teams often feel as if they’re ‘going it alone’ with communication from the vendor often feeling sporadic or even evasive. By contrast, with successful projects, the vendor implementation team often feels like ‘part of the family’ with communications provided in a timely fashion and consistently adding value to the process.

As always, frank and open discussions with current and past customers of your prospective software solution vendor(s) will provide the most revealing insights here. In seeking these truths, it’s important to not confine your conversations to C-Suite or Technical Lead contacts only, but rather to gain perspective from a broad sampling throughout the organization—from key project stakeholders through to frontline end users of the software suite.

Whereas the accumulation of this type of qualitative customer data was once fraught with dead ends or unanswered calls, the ubiquity of career centric social media such as LinkedIn empowers a process that makes it possible to achieve a representative survey quantifying vendor partnership traits and culture compatibilities in an easy and expedient fashion.

A sampling of some of the questions you might ask include the following:

  • Did this solutions provider feel like a true partner in the project?
  • Did they create processes and opportunities to fully integrate with your internal teams? If so, how?
  • Were they consistently responsive to enquiries and suggestions in a timely fashion?
  • Did their responses consistently move the needle forward towards solutions, or did they often simply stall or buy time?
  • Was communication with the vendor clear? Did you feel you always had a good sense of the project or did it feel sometimes as if you were left ‘in the dark?’
  • Does the vendor feel invested in your long-term success beyond the initial product launch? If yes, how is this perception cultivated and maintained?
  • How did the vendor respond when issues were encountered in the project? Was issue resolution collaborative or acrimonious?

Again, it’s important to emphasize that this process will only appear invasive or prohibitive to a potential vendor IF their customers have core dissatisfaction with the project implementation, their software platform, or their customer service approach. Satisfied customers will be happy to sing their praises and similarly, an  implementation vendor that places a high degree of emphasis on partnership and culture traits will prove extremely cooperative in facilitating your investigation of same.

Next week, we’ll continue our ongoing series on How to Deploy a Digital Government Platform by showing you how to ‘Quantify your potential government software platform as a truly integrated solution.’