Will your online marketing initiatives succeed? Most companies spend the majority of their time selecting the best technology tools for the job and place less importance on the partner chosen to implement them.
Regardless of the type of technology you’re investing in (a content management system (CMS), automated online marketing tools or ecommerce), the right implementation partner can be the true difference between ultimate success and failure.
Think of it as you would a contractor for your new home – you want someone who has the experience, materials and tools necessary to get the job done right the first time. As we previously discussed in our article Ask Better Questions to Hire the Best Sitecore Partner, it’s important that you ask questions which will allow you to quickly cut through the sales speak, slick presentations and endless promises to arrive at the best partner for you and your project.
When customers come to us with a failed Sitecore CMS deployment through another partner, they typically point out the following issues: there was a lack of communication, the vendor didn’t grasp the full requirements, and the project was poorly estimated and under scoped. In order to determine if your prospective new web solutions partner has the right set of tools in those critical areas – communication, expertise, and portfolio – there are several things you can take note of, and we have created a short 8 point checklist to help you do exactly that:
- Was it communicated to you that a project’s scope and timeline can change, and has it been discussed with you how situations such as these will be handled when they happen?
When the unforeseen happens – as it occasionally does – it’s crucial that your partner has a “plan of attack” and will be willing to work with you. Your web solutions partner should be upfront about their methods of handling the unforeseen during the duration of the implementation phase and post site launch.
- Did they itemize and explain what their estimates cover?
Check to make sure the estimates contain things most may overlook to include such as: meta data, error page, SEO redirects, and highly componentized data templates. Not including these important items may be more costly to your project in the long run.
- Have you been coached on the amount of internal time commitment that will be required during the implementation phase of the project?
The development of a new website and CMS deployment takes time on both ends – the web solutions firm and the client. Make sure your partner is open about this fact and the time commitment that will be placed on your shoulders as the client.
- Did they showcase their true level of expertise?
Your potential new partner should want to – very early on – demonstrate their level of expertise within their specific arena. Within the Sitecore space this includes: how many Sitecore MVPs are on their team, the number of Sitecore certified developers they employ, the amount of ongoing training given post Sitecore certification, and how many implementations on average has each developer completed.
- Have you been shown a diverse portfolio of past deployments?
Make sure you have been shown a variety of implementations within your potential partner’s portfolio which you feel gave you a confident glimpse of the true depth and breadth of their experience.
- Did they give you testimonials from customer regarding their rate of responsiveness?
Responsiveness is equally important during both the implementation phase and post site launch. Your partner should want to testify to the fact that they stand behind their ability to respond quickly throughout the project and also after deployment.
- Have you seen their lineup of 3rd party certifications?
If your web solutions partner has sought out 3rd party certifications and dedicated themselves to obtaining them, then it demonstrates a great deal of accountability and resourcefulness. Within the Sitecore space this includes: Client Engagement Platform Certification, Client Relationship Management Certification, Email Campaign Management Certification, E-Commerce Certification, Mobile Certification and Social Certification.
- Have they demonstrated thought leadership within their areas of expertise?
Expertise is determined not only by the time which has been dedicated to advancing a skillset but also by demonstrating thought leadership surrounding that skillset. If your potential new partner is actively sharing knowledge within the community on a skillset that they have spent time building upon, this shows a great deal of thought leadership and dedication to expanding their craft.
With so much focus being put on which technology solution you’re going to select, sometimes the importance of choosing the right web solutions partner can fall by the wayside. Your web solutions partner of choice can make or break the success of your website - which is why finding the right one is crucial. With over 100 content management implementations under our belt and one-third of our business centered on Sitecore CMS “takeover” work, we continue to stand behind the fact that choosing a system integrator is equally – if not more – important than choosing the right CMS. However choosing a web solutions partner doesn't have to be an overwhelming process, and with this short checklist you will be able to quickly choose the right partner for your project.