Selecting an IT consulting partner for a major initiative can be challenging and intimidating. There’s a lot of money and time at stake and a lot of executive-level attention on the outcomes. So, how do you make sure that you get it done right the first time? Here are some tips from the trenches.
1. Do a lot of homework and vet your candidates.
- Talk to the references that each vendor offers up, make sure those are legitimate
- Meet with sales reps on more than one occasion
- Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions about their company’s capabilities (after all you’re spending big bucks)
- Run financial models and worth analysis on each vendor
Do not rush, making the wrong choice is costly and risky
2. Make sure you have a solid project plan in place in advance of signing any contracts – and hold your vendor’s hands to it.
- A good project plan will help everyone stay on track and save lots of potential headaches down the line
- Keep in mind that what your project plan says should happen will be different from what happens
- Have a contingency plan in place for when those differences do occur – your last contingency plan should be to have a frank conversation with the vendors about what is realistic given the budget and timeline
3. Pay attention to the little things.
- Keep your eye on the ball: make sure you’re getting what you need out of vendors and keep that front and center in all interactions
- Consider culture fit with the vendors you choose and pay attention to how they work with you and your team
- Establish regular meetings with all the vendor points of contact, don’t just air grievances or solve problems in a vacuum – make sure that all your stakeholders are invited so they can share their thoughts about how the project is going
- Pay attention to smaller details…if your vendors can’t get the small things right, then it’s unlikely they’ll be able to successfully complete large tasks
4. Make sure that you have clear service level agreements (SLAs) with your vendors.
- Your SLAs should lay out exactly what criteria a vendor must meet for the project to be deemed successful
- You and the vendor need to agree on what constitutes “success” before you even sign a contract
- Don’t forget that change orders, scope modifications, or other contractual changes can have massive financial effects…so be sure to have those discussions in advance
5. Review each vendor’s performance after every milestone.
- Keep a list of tasks on your project plan, and make sure each vendor does their task within the specified time frame
- Keep a checklist of deliverables so you know that every part of the project is being done right (or get multiple sets of eyes to check off those boxes)
- Make sure you’re happy with what you’ve received before moving onto the next phase of the project
- Put all your concerns in writing so you can call out any issues
6. Choose a vendor that will be around for the long haul, and then hold them to it!
- That means picking vendors who have been in business for several years
- Ask vendors about their financial standing (if you’re considering larger companies)
- If you’re getting good services out of your current vendor don’t leave them for someone new just because they work cheaper
While there is no magic formula for selecting the right IT vendor, you can work to make sure that your project goes smoothly by way of planning, preparation, and forethought. Your project plan is the best barometer of how well your IT projects are going – so make sure you keep up with it and that the vendors are meeting their milestones. Make sure you’re paying attention to all the little things that can derail a project. Pay special attention to small details in vendor performance (the minute they start not completing tasks on time, or not following the project plan) and hold them accountable for those details. Above all else, have faith in your own judgment and don’t accept anything less than great service from any vendor you hire.
It is only through careful planning and paying attention to the details that an IT department can be successful in its vendor relationships. The information that was listed above will guide you through the process of making sure that your chosen IT vendor meets all your expectations. For more information about how to select and work with an IT vendor, be sure to check out our blog for many more helpful tips.
If you’re looking for the right healthcare technology partner for your business, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you and being a part of your organization’s success!