5 red flags you must never ignore when choosing a technology partner

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We’ve recently shared insights on building foundations and developing an efficient relationship with your technology partner, which should help you start on a high note.

As it happens, not everything in the garden is rosy. You will inevitably run up against challenges. Remember that only 14 percent of IT projects fail, as Project Management Institute reports. A further 31 percent never meet their goal, and almost half are delivered late. Surely, you don’t want your project in that cohort.

You can iron out the kinks by improving communication with your technology partner, however, if it’s too late, it can make you feel trapped in a vicious circle. The more time and energy you invest in a relationship, the harder it gets to leave it, especially when you realise it’s not cutting it anymore.

So how do you avoid a no-win situation?

Your relationship starts before project kick-off

When the success of your project depends on the support of a software partner, choosing the right one becomes essential. You must research the options carefully, ask for recommendations, check references, and do your due diligence.

It’s a multi-step process. Take time to get to know your potential technology partner and evaluate how they can fit into your short-term and long-term plans.

A software company or IT consultancy can tick all the checkboxes on your wishlist, yet still make you feel alarmed from the outset. It could have happened way before you signed the contract or started working on the PoC. What were those red flags?

Red flags not to ignore when choosing a technology partner

Even when being pressured by an incessantly growing backlog of business requests, never ignore red flags. Don’t rush into a cooperation with a new technology partner without having 100 percent confidence that they can deliver on their promise.

You’ll thank yourself later for holding your horses and not going into a relationship that was bound to go awry from the very beginning.

Here are some of the most common red flags to look out for.

#1: you only got to communicate with their sales and candidates

A new business developer or a sales representative is usually the first contact that gets in touch with you, which is standard. They speak with you to pre-assess your needs, or, as sales folks call it–’qualify a lead’, i.e. evaluate if there is a match between your requirements and their offer.

If there is, then the next step you’d expect is to get down to the nitty-gritty with a technology expert, or a delivery manager, right? So when it doesn’t happen and the potential partner starts sending you candidates–well, then it’s most probably not going to end up well.

Imagine getting a list of unverified Java developers when your tech stack consists of .NET technologies.

#2: your partner seems unwilling or unable to understand your business goals

Does your potential partner ask questions and goes the extra mile to understand the objectives of your business and technology stack? Or do they absorb the initial input from you as is, without further research or investigation into what you aim to achieve?

If your potential partner shows no signs of inquisitiveness, or worse yet–expects you to deliver them a set of ready-to-use data and instructions from day one–well, that’s another red flag flapping in the wind.

#3: your partner doesn’t manage and discuss risk

Has your partner raised concerns about potential dangers to the project? Do they transparently manage risk and inform you about any possible issues? Or do they prefer to sweep problems under the rug and stay on the sugar-coated level of avoidance?

Not discussing risks can endanger your project, and I guess that’s the last thing you want. Run a mile if your partner has no robust risk management framework and lacks openness to discuss these matters with you. You’ll do yourself a favour.

#4: your partner doesn’t question your assumptions

Think carefully about the type of a technology partner you’d like to have. Do you want a contractor that follows your guidance blindly? Or would you rather collaborate with an experienced IT team ready to challenge your assumptions when they notice a more efficient approach?

A good technology partner is not afraid to question your assumptions. Most likely they’ve sorted out similar problems before and can deal with your particular challenge.

Docile contractors can, of course, be useful to some extent. Yet if you’re looking for a long-term partner for strategic projects and planning, then do not settle for unquestioning consultants.

#5: your partner doesn’t add value to your business

Working with a technology partner, you get much more than just access to specialists with technical skills. The right company will inject the know-how and experience your business needs at its current stage of development–be it software delivery models, tools, process optimisation, or implementing innovation.

So if you can’t see any value your potential partner could add to your company, or there is no area in which you could learn from them–well, then you’d be better off passing on this one.

Remember, a relationship with your technology partner starts much earlier than from project kick-off. Never rush into collaborating with a contractor if you spot any of these red flags. Get in touch with us and discover how finding the right technology partner can be easier than you think. 

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