Prescription for a Healthy IT Project (Post 3 of 6)
In my last two posts I’ve been using the problems with the newly launched federal health insurance website as the jumping off point for a broader discussion of how to engage and work with vendors who can meet your expectations. Just like the process of hiring employees, engaging an IT vendor should involve a rigorous interview process. Always take the time to review the firm’s past work and to meet the actual people who will be involved with your project. As I describe in my book, Building a Winning Business, it’s also wise to think about the following points during the interview:
- Do they ask questions? To create a solution, they’ll need to understand the problem. Asking questions shows they care and that they’re prepared.
- Do they seem too good to be true? For example, if you’re considering five firms for a project and four of the five have stated that your delivery date is unrealistic but one firm can, somehow, hit your deadline, it’s highly possible they just may be telling you what you want to hear to get your business. In this scenario, it’s also highly possible that they will disappoint you by missing the deadline once you’ve signed on the dotted line.
- Do they pay attention to the details? In the sales process, you’re most likely going to see the best side of the firm. If they’re late or don’t follow through on small details in the bidding process, it won’t get better once you’ve engaged them.
- Look for a fit on a cultural level. Similar to having employees who fit the culture of your company, look for a cultural fit with your outside provider.
The bottom line: hiring a vendor should be undertaken with the same level of preparation and scrutiny given to hiring a new employee. Ask tough questions and pay close attention to what is said – and left unsaid – by all vendors that you consider.
Next time: how to get your new vendor relationship off to the best start!