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Ask Better Questions to Hire the Best Sitecore Partner



Trevor Olson
Trevor Olson

It can be a challenge.  You’re about to begin a new project implementing Sitecore CMS and you’re interviewing potential Sitecore certified partners to help you.

So, where do you begin? How can you quickly cut through the sales speak, slick presentations and endless promises to arrive at the right partner for you and your unique project?

The trick is simple. Ask better questions.

Better questions will help you:

  • Quickly get to an “apples to apples” comparison.
  • Determine the experience required to take on your project’s challenges.
  • Cut through canned answers and positioning statements that distort your evaluation.
  • Find the Sitecore partner who has the experience and expertise to do the job right.

We’ve taken 7 of the most common CMS implementation questions asked of us over the past 14 years and provided questions that might be better and more useful for you to ask.  

Common Question #1 - How much will it cost to implement?

A better question:

“What is your process for conducting a reliable and realistic estimate?” 

This will help you uncover whether the the vendor consulting with you in the sales process is working to uncover your true specifications versus just basing the cost on a wish list.

And to follow up:

“How do you validate that estimate?”

This will help you understand if their benchmark estimates are made using historical information from similar projects and account for the full features versus just a development effort guess.

Common Question #2 - How many implementations have you done?

A better question:

“Do you have a variety of implementations within your portfolio that show the true depth and breadth of your experience? Show us.”

Common Question #3 - How many Sitecore certified developers do you have on staff?

A better question:

“What do you do to train developers beyond certification?”

It’s important to recognize that training and certification alone is far from in the trenches training based on real world scenarios. At Aware, passing the Sitecore certification exam is just the beginning. Once official Sitecore training is done, our people are required to go through Sitecore University, our own little Sitecore Master's program.

And to follow up:

“How many implementations, on average, have each of your developers completed?”

One or two implementations doesn’t cut it. Ensure your partner has expertise at multiple levels in the process and that experienced Sitecore solution architects and lead developers are at the helm.

Common Question #4 - How long will it take to implement?

A better question:

“How will you advise us on constraints that balance timing against price and feature decisions?”

This will tell you how they will work with you when things change. Understand that changes to project scope are extremely common. It’s likely that your project timeline will change multiple times. Instead of just learning “how long” make sure you are clear about how the partner will work with you when the unforeseen happens.

Question #5 - Do you have any Sitecore MVPs on staff?

A better question:

“How many Sitecore MVPs do you have on staff?”
 
Raise your standards. 

Common Question #6 - How long have you been a Sitecore partner?

A better question:

“How has your company demonstrated thought leadership within the Sitecore community?”
 
Tenure is important, but recognize that experience is better gauged by the expertise gained and shared by an organization in the community it serves.

Common Question #7 – What Sitecore Specializations have you been awarded by Sitecore?

A better question:

Question 7 is pretty new to the scene, but we’ve seen more and more companies asking it. We couldn’t be more thrilled. Frankly, we consider it one of the best questions you can ask and wouldn’t change a thing! The questions above are all good ones, and certainly shouldn’t be viewed as the only questions that should be asked, but the very BEST question we’ve heard asked is about Sitecore Specializations.

Why?

Sitecore’s Specialization program was designed to recognize the partners who have proven expertise in a specific area. To get specialization we had to demonstrate our successful track record through detailed documentation and follow up interviews. You don’t get to the specialization designation by doing this one or twice. Specializations represent advanced extensions of Sitecore you only accomplish once you’ve first mastered the foundation of the Sitecore development platform. Mastery of the platform itself results from many, many implementations of varying size, type and complexity in a replicable way. Specialization mastery is only possible after this first is accomplished. You must master surgery first before you specialize in brain surgery.

Aware's Sitecore Specializations

Aware is honored to be one of the first Sitecore Certified Partners to receive expert level certification in all four categories of the new Sitecore Partner Specializations program.

  • Client Engagement Platform Certification
  • Client Relationship Management Certification
  • Email Campaign Management Certification
  • eCommerce Certification 

Best of luck!

Hopefully these insights around asking better questions are helpful when you’re evaluating Sitecore partners for your next project. Be sure to contact Aware if we can help!

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