Our advice on building sustainable technology partnerships that will complement any digital transformation initiative.

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Now that technology is fundamentally improving how companies do business and interact with customers, the pressure is on to capitalize on those improvements as fast as possible.

According to Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda: Industry Insights Overview, 47% of CEOs are under increasing levels of urgency from their boards of directors to advance their digital capabilities, resulting in a need for speed when it comes to choosing a suitable technology partner.

To help expedite this selection process, we’re sharing our top tips for finding the perfect alignment with technology vendors and building strong, long-lasting partnerships that will support continuous digital evolution.

Solutions, Services, Product, or Staff Aug Providers?

A necessary first step is knowing which type of provider is best for your project. There are tons of options out there, from managed services, staff aug, and solutions providers to digital agencies and consultancy firms, right up to pure product development companies.

We know. It can get a little confusing.

Pinning down the right provider first requires an understanding of the business goals that need to be achieved. For example, this might be a boost in app users, more visitors to a website, or improved internal efficiency. Either way, with that goal in mind it is much easier to know which provider can make it attainable.

From our unique vantage point, it’s become clear that companies are reaching these goals much more quickly by leveraging the broad range of skills that come with cross-functional teams. These include designers, product experts, engineers, technical writers, and other specialists that work together as one unit, which allows them to interact with different touch points within the client organization.

While traditional large-scale technology organizations can provide low cost and high volume, they are not usually ready to assist clients in transforming their business, mainly because they have not really been able to truly transform themselves.

Businesses need to find the right balance of technology partners that can provide low-cost, high-volume tactical services, as well as pure digital services that will transform the business and the company culture. These partners are capable of building and maintaining bleeding-edge digital solutions and products by leveraging the best technology, capabilities, user experience, design, innovation, and capacity while scaling them all together in an agile and distributed way.

Ultimately, choosing the right provider always depends on the specific needs of the project, and there may be instances where a combination of different services is required, so focusing on the needs of the business goal is the optimal approach.

Cost vs. Value

No matter the project, cost will always be a primary consideration when finding that perfect tech partner. However, true value is often overlooked as the pressure mounts to reduce costs, whatever it takes.

In many cases, a company’s procurement and vendor management organizations are highly focused on reducing costs—and are rewarded for their efforts. Their value contribution is often measured by their ability to decrease hourly rates with vendors, usually without considering the tension and disconnect this creates with the product development teams.

Instead of getting hung up on costs, companies will benefit more from considering the long-term business goals and results, so all stakeholders within the company should be aligned with those goals before beginning the search for partners.

Look for opportunities to empower and incentivize partners to invest in your business, share the risks, and provide the best bang for their buck, because the resulting value will be far more than the potential savings from a reduced hourly rate.

Transparency Breeds Innovation and Shared Success

When vetting any product development partner, companies should ask A LOT of questions, and the provider should be prepared to answer them without hesitation. Companies need to trust in their partner’s ability to understand an existing digital transformation strategy and leverage technology to create a secure, reliable, customer-centric product at minimal risk to the business.

However, this transparency goes both ways, as the client company must be open to sharing information that will enable the partner to get the job done with minimal obstructions.

The trick to building this transparency is to establish an open dialogue that serves to outline clear responsibilities and expectations on both sides of the partnership. This should include a definition of key metrics and shared goals that can be translated into KPIs to enable the measurement of business impacts, such as the levels of innovation, velocity, quality, and autonomy.

Remember, an open line of communication is essential for success, both at the start of the partnership and throughout the development process.

Partnerships > Relationships

Bringing this all together, the end goal is about creating true partnerships with technology companies, rather than relying on superficial vendor-client relationships.

To keep their brands in pole position, businesses need to truly transform themselves into organizations that are fully involved in this new digital era, while also adapting to necessary changes along the way. With the help of the right technology partner, this is much easier to achieve and sustain, as they already have the expertise to take businesses to the next level.

For companies that want to turn a product vision into a reality, the sweet spot requires a balance of solid technical capabilities, flexibility, transparency, and a high level of trust between client and vendor. Furthermore, giving providers space to innovate and play around with new technologies and trends often results in new digital touch points for end customers, bringing benefits to all involved.

By understanding how partners can accelerate the development of high-quality, impactful software products and solutions, while also developing new ways of connecting with customers, companies will be on the right path to ensuring they remain relevant in the digital world for years to come.

Matt Kendall Posted by Matt Kendall on Monday, January 14, 2019.

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