Top 4 Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring A Systems Integration Partner
Earlier this week we released 41 Questions for your Ecommerce Systems Integrator, our new ebook to help retailers evaluate potential development partners. To support the release we’re collecting additional advice from industry experts. To kick us off we’re excited to have Russ Hill, the director of Infrastructure Services at our partner Amplifi Commerce, sharing his advice for choosing a systems integrator.
Creating competitive differentiation, resolving technical roadblocks and upgrading legacy systems are all reasons partnering with a systems integrator may be a requirement for your organization. Systems Integrators (SI’s) provide businesses with access to specialized skillsets necessary for addressing unique organizational challenges. However, their success in delivering those results for your enterprise hinge on avoiding four frequent mistakes. In this post, I will discuss these pitfalls and how to avoid them, so your organization will be positioned to build a successful relationship with a trustworthy partner. In contrast, making these mistakes almost always causes project delays, budget overruns and overall dissatisfaction – an experience we all want to avoid. So, let’s get started –
Mistake #1: Hiring a systems integrator without proven results.
Systems integrators have often done work similar to what you need, but may not have done so in your industry, to the exact specs or at the same scale you require. This can be a dangerous trap because the integrator may not be aware of project requirements native to your needs and may not be able to fully deliver the solution required. This often results in poorly specified work streams, missed deadlines, budget overruns and can lead to project failure.
How to avoid it: Make sure to conduct your due-diligence. Check client references; schedule a time to interview the program manager or business unit leader to ensure you receive first-hand insight into their experience. Review resumes of key members of the systems integrators team that will be assigned to your project, and verify that those people interviewed are actually going to be assigned to your project. Go a step further and compare past work to the knowledge and capacity needed to deliver the full scope of your project requirements. Make sure it is a good fit.
Mistake #2: Your progress stalls when your systems integrator leaves.
Remember the “specialized knowledge” of systems integrators I mentioned before? Well, don’t fall into the trap of having your SI build your solution and not share with you what they’ve done, how they’ve done it, and how to maintain it. This pitfall typically leads you to relying on your integrator for future needs, rather than training your team to be self-sufficient.
How to avoid it: You need to make sure, up-front, that you have a knowledge transfer process in place. This ensures you have the time and resources necessary to ensure your team understands the work product and can continue on – independently and successfully.
Mistake #3: You create blind spots by not keeping basic tools In-house
A counterpart to Mistake #2, not controlling key aspects of mission critical project components in-house leaves you vulnerable. In the event you and your integrator part ways, you want to be sure you can move forward with all the foundational elements you need to support your assets.
How to avoid it: Keep at least some of the basic tools including templates, documentation, scripts, deployment programs, source code, monitoring onsite. Don’t be left completely in the dark or dependent on your SI.
Mistake #4: The systems integrator is not an industry expert
Perhaps you work in a highly regulated industry like healthcare or finance. Maybe you are part of a multi-national enterprise with expansion plans for China. You need a systems integrator with demonstrated experience successfully delivering solutions for these types of unique and specific use cases. Without a strong partner, you may be hiring a technically competent company, but one that lacks knowledge critical to ensuring overall project success.
How to avoid it: Seek out systems integrators with industry specific expertise. Also consider those with client engagements specifically relevant to your project. Choose a partner capable of adding value and solving problems, not creating new ones.
No one plans to choose the wrong systems integration partner. However, if any of these red flags are resonating with you as a possibility in your current search for an SI partner, think twice before committing. Choosing the wrong systems integration partner can be a painful and expensive lesson. Make sure you partner with a firm capable of delivering your project fully and successfully, not just the firm that quoted the lowest price or had the best sales team and presentation deck.