Selecting a web technology company for your organization is an important decision. But, it’s not as hard as you think. At the simplest level, you must first think through your organization’s needs. Organizations frequently make the mistake of approaching technology firms without making crucial decisions because it’s assumed that all those decisions can be made during the project. The truth is that vendor engagement and project success measures should be made before the first vendor is even called or the pen hits the paper for development of the RFP. And, If you’re tasked with leading the vendor selection process, you will need to assure that the vendor’s transition into your organization is as seamless as possible once the decision is made. In order to do this, make sure questions about the vendor’s credentials are easily answered and the groundwork is fully laid for the vendor to gain the trust of your organization’s key stakeholders. Here are a few suggestions to help find the right technology firm for your organization:
- Vendor Referrals. Ask trusted colleagues which technology firms they recommend. Or, call an organization that has a similar make-up as your own and ask them about their technology firm. Also, peruse the applicable listservs and user groups to see which technology firms are active and/or mentioned positively.
- Experience Counts. Common sense suggests that you should find a technology firm that has done projects very similar to yours. But look for the vendor who can demonstrate applicable solutions and can offer some suggestions for alternative methods to achieving success. You just might end up with a much better solution and/or something completely different than you thought you needed.
- Short-Term vs. Long-Term. You’re looking for a technology partner, even if you don’t think you are. Web applications and websites evolve over time (or at least they should). In the short-term, a technology firm that can ensure success on the initial project is only part of the equation. For the long-term, what usually proves to be far more important is the technology firm’s ability to support and extend the software and learn your business to best meet your organization’s evolving needs and goals.
- Methodology. Plainly stated, how do you do what you do? When interviewing the vendor, make sure the group didn’t just get lucky with success on their last project. Be sure the vendor has a defined, proven process for conducting the type of project your organization needs. Different projects require different approaches.