Choose a partner, not just a vendor
Having read the first two parts of this blog series of four, and now continuing with blog 3, I gather you have weighed the plusses and minuses, done your due diligence and put out an RFP. So how do you make an educated, sensible decision on the best supplier for your organization?
Look for cultural fit
As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, large companies share attributes with large suppliers, and small ones with similarly-sized suppliers. Experience in your industry is another delineator, but you need more. How can you measure culture, or “fit?”
Start by looking for attributes you want in your own employees. For instance, do you value a detail orientation or big picture thinking? Are you looking for a supplier who will guide you on processes, or do you want them to learn yours? What about communication? Is it comfortable? Do you feel understood? Has the supplier responded in a timely, succinct manner throughout the vetting process?
Look for a supplier who chooses you too
Good software development firms are in demand. They may want new business, but they want the right kind of business. It should fall into their sweet spot – where they can promise the best possibility for success. These suppliers do not go after new business with a shotgun. They are more targeted in their approach, and they will show you how you fit into their model. They have “chosen” you as much as you are choosing them.
Look for soft skills: communication and transparency
Hard skills are table stakes when evaluating a new business partner. You can cull the herd based on these attributes. But once you are down to two or three suppliers that fit your metrics, look for the one who demonstrates the clearest communication with you. For example, you should insist on strong English language skills, and not just with appointed communicators but throughout the team that will be servicing your account. On that point, will you have access to all team members? Or will communication be funneled through one or two contacts? Access to all team members will not only strengthen your teams from top to bottom, but it will also lead to improved collaboration.
See the graphic below to understand Coherent Solutions’ transparent communication model.
Rob has worked in the consulting industry since 1992. At Coherent he is responsible for the operational management of the company. His prior experiences include management consulting, technical architecture, and program/project management. Rob holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and a BA in Economics from the University of Notre Dame