This post is a companion to our earlier blog on What is digital transformation. These articles, together, will help an enterprise evaluate the need for a digital transformation and how to go about finding a partner for the same. In this article, we present important objective & measurable ways to select your technology partner. We highlight certain requirements that are mandatory and a few “good to have” traits. As we highlighted here , Digital transformation is the planning, analysing, conducting & support of business operations via technology.
An enterprise can be considered as “Digitally compliant” if it has the following traits.
- Customer experience, which is digital all the way. From inquiry to after-sales
- Continuous improvement based on analytics which is powered by AI-based tools
- Backend architecture which is almost entirely in the cloud or with minimal. on-premise/hybrid systems
- Internal business process and core business practices which are highly automated
- Tie-ups and collaboration with tech partners at an organisational level
Selection of a digital partner can be subjective and/or objective.
Subjective reasons to select a digital partner
1) Confidence in a particular partner because they are local and hence trusted
2) Mandated by law to provide opportunities to a specific group in your country, state etc
3) Personal relationship of any kind or previously committed to them
4) Recommendation by a trusted authority or partner
5) Influenced by size, scale, turnover and other factors and many more…
Subjective reasons are just that, and hence we wont get too much into discussing that. Whether subjective or objective, there are some mandatory checks to be done while selecting a technical partner
Mandatory Checks before selecting a partner
1) Technical competency
2) Legal checks
3) Communication modes, times, channels
4) Certified, Compliant within the context of your requirement
For the sake of brevity, let us consider that you have reached a decision to induct and infuse new technology or more technology into your business. You have your reasons, you made your decision and hence you are in the deep end now. Maybe you want to open up a new sales channel or you might want to save costs on existing IT infrastructure. Perhaps you want to take a final decision on setting up the new plant or improve training programs for your staff
1) Ask your potential digital partner “Why do I need to go the digital way?” and “How best should I leverage technology?”
Ultimately, you are trying to solve a problem or provide a service or build/change a new order or an existing order.
And you are hoping technology,
will help you do so. But how?
A potential partner, and an able one, will see your existing working, identify pitfalls, understand challenges and suggest a remedial course of action or a new course of action which will not just fix or build your existing issues/process, but also help you generate new value from it.
In simple terms, they should present you a road map of taking your business to its next version. And they should help you understand how in a simple manner without a bucket load of tech jargon. The clearer they are in convincing you about solutions, proposing alternatives etc, the better they are. The quality of the answers can be gauged by simple questions likes
What modifications are required to go this route as proposed by the potential digital partner?
How sustainable is this solution they are proposing?
Is this long term?
Are there alternatives? Have they considered the competition?
Will this solution add more value?
2) Look for a domain specialist or one with relevant experience in your domain
Consider this. Your domain or business vertical is very diverse. It has a plethora of products, services, legacy data, use cases, govt rules around those, compliance laws, trade rules, etc. What you are essentially doing is trying to take this entire ecosystem of your service or business and take it to the next level with technology. A technology service provider might not be able to understand your domain as well as you do. For a variety of reasons of course. Prior experience of a particular domain gives a unique blend of understanding and know-how.
For example, Confidentiality of patient data in a health care solution is not a “good-to-have” feature. It’s mandatory! A tech partner who has knowledge of a compliance policy like HIPAA, will be able to deliver better solutions to the customer. Depending on your need, a tech partner who is a domain expert or has experience in a similar domain might be the most important factor in driving your business forward.
In addition to providing the core requirements you have, your potential technology partner should be able to evaluate the areas where digital transformation can make a positive impact, i.e provide measurable outcomes. A digital partner should be able to highlight a diverse range of portfolios strung together in partnerships with other customers. Partnerships represent trust. And repeat business from the same partnerships implies quality plus trust.
4) Work culture
Work culture is a very good barometer of a vendor’s working style and more importantly Integrity. A vendor that creates a work culture which draws its employees to its workplace is a happy workplace. And it’s no secret that a happy workplace is a productive workplace. Work culture is the representation of the organization’s
values, beliefs and ethics. It is necessary to highlight that choosing a vendor with a work culture that is successful, might not necessarily work for you. But rather, choose a vendor with a work culture or belief system similar to yours.
5) Adaptability and Flexibility
Process in execution helps an organisation define a measurable scale. This defines the right way of execution and it measures any deviation from the defined path. In general terms, processes exist to help deliver better quality results. Whatever be the endeavour. While these are wonderful qualities in an organisation to have, not all tasks and processes can be defined with precision. Sometimes an organisation has to deviate from the normal order of execution because the situation demands it.
For ex, Imagine an overnight change in the laws of a country which increases quality checks for a said product. All things considered equal, a flexible and adapting vendor will be able to execute the process within the ambit of the new laws, on the promised timelines without getting rigidly bound to a fixed way of working. For e.g. Executing the steps in the quality check process concurrently wherever possible
6) Look for a partner, not a vendor
Finally, whatever you seek to accomplish will be driven by a group of people. Process, documentation, prior track record, compliance, recommendations etc are good measurable metrics for selecting the right partner. But as with any partnership or agreement, whether civil or business, look for a partner who believes in your goals.
What drives them or excites them? A need to make lasting change?
Does your requirement motivate them? How?
Can they find any value in this partnership which is not based on money?
Do they believe in your vision? And if so why?
If the answer to these questions is mostly yes, there is a good chance you met your perfect technology partner
Finally, a technology partner doesn’t just build solutions and leave. The right technology partner is a co-passenger in your journey. A technology partner begins by evaluating, understanding your business. They share your vision and passion. Then they provide a long term roadmap with measurable outcomes. They are engineers and designers at heart. Finding the right partner is thus a combination of right people having right knowledge with strong values