A 7-point checklist for choosing a tech partner

November 17, 2022

A 7-point checklist for choosing a tech partner

In Part 1 of this two-part series, I gave you a rundown of what you need to do inside your business in order to be ready to connect with a great technology partner.

It is important at this point to identify the difference between a vendor and a partner. Vendors take clear briefs and instructions, and provide you a service. They deliver to the specifications you require. A partner is an extension of your business. Their role is consultative and collaborative throughout your relationship. They are invested in helping you achieve the strategic vision and scale for your business.

After doing your due diligence and confirming that you need an external team to support your business goals, here’s what you need to look out for, to Swipe right. Understand the resources that will be used in the agency, from skills to ways of working. 

1. Strategic ability 

How do they approach your brief, ask questions, encourage discussion, research your business and industry before drafting a proposal? Strategic technology partners think about your project at scale – what the future looks like, how the customers will interact and evolve, how your business may need to adapt in order to benefit from the technology that will be implemented. They often have a research and UX team to support strategic development. Ask about the process, timing, complexities, pitfalls and lessons learnt. This conversation will give you an indication of their level of confidence.

2. Is it a good fit?

Presenting your prospective partner with a request for proposal or upfront use case will open the opportunity to engage without a commitment. Look for interest in your customers, data, internal and external landscape. Are they proactively asking questions and do they reach out to communicate? These behaviours will give you an indication of the company culture.

Some businesses plan a chemistry get-together with prospective agencies to see if it’s a good fit, like a first date, where you get to ask casual questions and observe common interests. Can they think about the future of your business and consider opportunities and risks?

3. Ways of working

A dev house should be able to give you a roadmap of how they will deliver on the brief. You should know how work is prioritised and managed, and which roles have been assigned to your project.

Do they have a transparent process for how the teams work internally? Projects can run into challenges along the way, due to fast-moving technologies, and the right tech partner will always remain upfront about these.

Ask about their SLAs, after-hours support and after-sales service. How are changes to project timelines and costs communicated?

There is a fine line between expertise and experience

4. What technologies they use and what the skill levels are

Assessing the technologies & engineer expertise requires you to have done some homework about the available technologies and how they are used. If you are unable to assess those before the time, consider:

  • Do they have a Product team or product-minded engineers that can advise you on the best technologies to use and why?
  • Does the team have UX specialists – do they have proven experience in thinking out the box and creative problem-solving?
  • Which technology frameworks do they use often – a technology framework is the architecture and materials used to build the product or features.
  • What knowledge and skills do they have? How do they use the frameworks that they work with? Check examples of previous projects and also have them take you through how they typically approach a build.
  • What industries they have worked with – ask the agency for recent case studies of work done. Look for similarities in the industries they serve and the solutions they have built for other businesses. 

5. Pricing

Pricing strategies vary and this is definitely something that needs to be unpacked and understood by your internal teams – operations and finance. Depending on the type of technology build you require, the price model could be time-based, output-based or feature-based. Most importantly, do they provide estimations that are clear, detailed and easy to understand? Do they offer ways to optimise and make your project more efficient? Sometimes you can combine low-code and no-code solutions to get what you need at a better price and timeline. 

6. Testimonials / References

This would be a combination of referenceable case studies and testimonials from quoted clients, both on their website and social media pages. If a tech company can introduce you to their existing clients to have a chat with, it is a great sign of confidence and transparency.

7. Timing and commitment / Availability of resources

Where will you stand in the pecking order? If you have a long-term project with clear deliverables, it is important for all parties to commit to the outputs against these. If you agree to an outcome-based pricing model and the business only assigns one developer to your project, this could be problematic down the line. At the end of the day, there are humans behind the machines who will do the work. Ensure from the get-go that you get value for your money. Some agencies have freelancers available to assist them to help with overload situations. Ask these questions.

So many challenges can be avoided when you take a holistic approach to your tech partner selection. Remember to first assess your technology needs by engaging the right stakeholders in your business.

Interested to know what Swipe brings to the table? Get in touch. Our team of developers and industry experts will undoubtedly convince you to swipe right.

Jacques Fourie

Gaynor Johnson

Head of Innovation

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