Embarking on a new relationship with a technology partner is exciting and can provide an outcome that delivers on both purpose and profitability. The dynamics of the relationship are crucial to the success of the project, with considerations like cultural alignment, playing an important role in the selection process. 

With so many providers on offer the choice can be overwhelming, and what works for one business may not work for another; so how do you choose a technology partner that meets both your technical needs and aligns with the values of your organisation?

Asking the right questions up front can save time and confusion later down the line, enabling you and your team to concentrate on the needs of the organisation instead of micromanaging or doubling your workload due to lack of trust or a breakdown in communication.

Let’s consider what’s important when exploring a new tech partnership.

1. Cultural DNA is important 

Cultural alignment with your partner is one of the most important elements, beyond knowing they can do the job. When working to a deadline to design and build software, you’re working in an intense and intimate environment. You’re collaborating and communicating constantly to refine and clarify, with long hours dedicated to achieving the desired outcome. High performing teams tend to be built on mutual respect and both parties must come to the table with a clear sense of identity, values and purpose to set the scene for the relationship. 

2. Keep it real

Be prepared for challenging conversations – a strong relationship is built on trust and truth, with input from everyone at the table.  The ultimate goal is that all individuals and parties expend their effort in pursuit of the best possible solution for you, the client. Therefore, leadership needs to be injected by both parties to find a solution, while ensuring the clients views are understood and appreciated, particularly when key decisions (including technical) are made. 

3. Do your research 

You want experts, right? Check their credentials and grill them on their knowledge of your company and the industry – they may come highly recommended from a friend or colleague, but their experience could be entirely dependent on the project or field of expertise. Do they have specific insights into your sector or can they provide a case study that showcases their skills in a particular area. Look for the particulars that match your needs or at least meet them, you want to know your organisation is in a safe pair of hands, not because they have great reviews; but because they have demonstrated to you their ability to deliver. 

4. Begin with bite size chunks 

Start small, think big. If this is your first experience with a technology partner, or the organisation has been burnt in the past, take a low risk approach to manage expectations and demonstrate value. You could start with a small project or piece of work together, which also establishes relationships and enables a structure and flow of work to develop. 

5. Keep your feet on the ground 

Everybody has the best intentions when they start out and there is always a honeymoon phase at the beginning of any relationship, but from a commercial perspective, it’s best to remain prudent and keep your options open in the event that things don’t quite work out the way you planned. By being honest and transparent upfront and maintaining this integrity throughout the project, there won’t be any surprises when the contract is up. They’re also the attributes of any healthy client/partner relationship and reflect the reputation of your organisation. 

6. Join the dots on data

Data is one of your most valuable assets – guard it with care. An important conversation that will need addressing early on in discussions, is ownership of data. It’s vital that both parties come to a mutual agreement and that future data is also included. It’s also crucial to understand the safety credentials of your technology partner, and how data is protected, stored, backed up and managed. Go over this with a fine tooth comb and ensure you have the right people reading the contract before anything is signed. 

7. Be clear about communication 

When working with a partner, it’s about more than technology. Once you’ve established the value they can bring to your project and organisation, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of day-to-day and the approach they take to tasks, problem solving and communications. You’ll be working with humans, and sometimes technology fails (and sometimes, so do humans!) – are they proactive, who will lead the team and take ownership of any issues that might arise? Are they prompt and responsive? You’ll have a sense of what your expectations are when it comes to these things, so make them clear and work with the supplier to address your needs.

8. Tackle issues head on

Finally, confront the elephant in the room. If something isn’t working, be it resources, a process, style of communication or piece of technology, find a way to talk about it. And ensure that you have a contractual environment that allows for the execution of the work in the spirit of true partnership. If you’ve built a relationship (and contract) based on the principles of trust, openness and honesty, then you should be equipped to have a conversation that can straighten things out. Don’t leave it to fester or for issues to mount up, tackle them head on and figure out a solution together. 

As you embark on any client / partner relationship, firstly ensure that you put your team in place and position them with the long game in mind. Your technology partner ultimately shouldn’t fill seats within a team where the talent is available internally and available for the project. By not rotating talent unnecessarily, you are able to create consistency.  If you’re adding value to the work today, the future will take care of itself. 

Throughout the relationship, be open to new ways of working and different approaches; both parties should seize the opportunity to learn and grow with every project, particularly when it comes to understanding and implementing innovative new technologies. By getting the fundamentals in place, you’ll be set up to enjoy the process and reap the benefits of the outcome. 

Now that you’ve processed the considerations to take in choosing the right technology partner, it’s time to start your research. If you need a hand and you’re looking for a technology partner for an upcoming project or long term, we’d love to help. Find out more about our previous work here.