I shaved, brushed my teeth, combed my hair, and put on my best sport coat. I looked in the mirror one last time, then drove to where we were meeting. I arrived in a shiny new SUV (does that look to showy?) I went in, nervous and excited, but wanted to project confidence. We sat at the table, and made some small talk.
“How about that weather, huh?”
“Ugh,” I think to myself, “do I sound like a dork?”
I then cleared my throat, opened PowerPoint, and started my presentation: “We are a global cloud consultancy with…”
I have often thought that IT projects are like a marriage between the client and the implementation partner. It starts with a certain attraction (Do I want to be with them? Are they interesting? Will they make me better?). There is often a long courtship – a back and forth of figuring out if this is a good match. There is a proposal, and it is either rejected or accepted. If the proposal is accepted, it gets formalized with a lot of promises and a legal contract, and then there’s a celebration. At Appirio, a closed-won opportunity results in a “Ring the Bell” email getting sent out to everyone, reminiscent of church bells at the conclusion of a wedding.
Then, the real work begins. The day-to-day living out of an IT project requires dedication and attention to detail. It is during this time that you really learn about your partner. Through good times and bad, how well you work together will largely determine how successful you are.
So in this crazy world, how do you find an implementation partner that is a match? Here are some suggestions:
Start by reading our White Paper on Cloud Implementation Requests for Information. Think of this as the list of things your parents would tell you to look for in a partner. Things like “Make sure he has a job,” or “Make sure he respects his mother,” or “Make sure they have a development methodology.” The partner with the best booth at Dreamforce might not always be the best choice. Look for depth of understanding, and an approach to projects that is grounded in solid experience.
The fact is, life changes, and so do business needs. Look for a partner who understands how to be flexible, but within certain parameters. It is important to have a methodology for change. A good partner will allow for flexibility, but also have the wisdom to help you choose the right path through it.
Look for a partner that listens to you. Do they respond to your particular needs, or are they just throwing boilerplate ideas at you? Make sure they address your concerns, and appreciate what makes you unique.
Understand that you are not perfect, and no partner is perfect. If a partner has no failures, they are not trying hard enough. Be wary of a partner that tries to project an image of perfection. The important thing is to learn from failures, and apply those lessons going forward.
Finally, try to determine if your potential partner is happy. Talk to their employees, snoop about them on the internet. Happy employees are energized and will work harder. They will, in the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work.” Nobody can be happy all the time, but a general approach to work filled with joy and enthusiasm will help pull projects through challenging times. Remember, you are stuck with these people for the duration.
Have a very happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.