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How to choose your IT partner?

Nowadays, having a fully functioning IT department is critical because it increases the efficiency of all parts of a business. Furthermore, it streamlines operations considerably by helping organizations create, manage, optimize and access relevant information and business processes. IT skills can make or break a company’s competitiveness. Pieces of advice from Diane Tea, RealTech company managing director and tech investor.

If IT is not part of your core competencies, and you have reached your limits with DIY, then it is time to outsource. To do so, however, there are several steps you must take and questions you need answered.

As a former senior procurement professional, I would even recommend you take the time to go through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process. It is time well-invested as the process enables you to identify gaps, needs, objectives and budget. It also lets you properly scan the market, interview candidates, gauge their capabilities and ultimately select and hire the right partner. You will identify the operational processes you need to put in place in order to measure their performance. Because IT impacts all functions within your organization, it is essential that all relevant teams are on the same page.

An RFP document will briefly present your company and the purpose of the RFP. In addition, it will clearly describe your needs, objectives and the results you want to achieve. It will present a set of targeted questionnaires for the vendors so that you can assess their capabilities and see if they match your needs.

Identify your needs, objectives and results

An IT partner is like an extended team you want to incorporate into your business to help it grow. Have a clear idea of your needs because you will have to explain them so that the IT partner can provide the results you are expecting.

To identify your needs, go through the following exercise with your relevant teams to ensure you are aligned and do not miss any relevant data:

  • Take inventory f your company: what are its strengths? What is it lacking?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are the tangible results you want to achieve?
  • What are the tasks you need to outsource? Assess the tactical vs. strategic part and prioritize.

Identify your budget and the selection criteria

Your budget will determine the type and length of the partnership, as well as the scope of projects you can afford to outsource.

The criteria would include, but is not be limited to, the following:

  • Technical and delivery capabilities
  • SLAs commitment vs. what you expect
  • Support and maintenance service (once the projects are delivered)
  • Pricing structure
  • Customer references, referrals, case studies
  • Team assignment: who are they and where are they based? On-shore, near-shore or off-shore? Their seniority, experience and location will help you evaluate the pricing levels
  • Do they have to subcontract? If so, get full transparency of the subcontractors and ensure your IT partner is your sole contact who will take full responsibility for the deliverables
  • Examine the content of the future sourcing contract: obligations of both parties, IP, and all relevant commercial and legal requirements
  • Cultural fit and mutual understanding: do they adhere to the CSR policies your company lives by? Do they understand your requirements?

Identify prospective IT vendors

  • Make a list of possible IT vendors and investigate them beforehand
  • Some may be listed on the Dun & Bradstreet database. If your company has access to it, perform a search on their financial solvency

Once you have identified all these points, you can invite the most qualified candidates for an in-depth screening and evaluation.

(Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash)

This article was first published in the 8th issue of SILICON magazine. Be the first to read SILICON articles on paper before they’re posted online, plus read exclusive features and interviews that only appear in the print edition, by subscribing online.

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