Tech partnering planning and preparation
March 19, 2018
By Nicol Pasuit, CEO of TechStak
As a small business, managing your businesses’ digital transformation while running your day-to-day operations is a balancing act. You’ve got to make tech savvy decisions and adopt the right technologies – most often without the assistance of in-house IT or tech development expertise.
But you’re not alone. According to the Salesforce 2016 Connected Small Business Report, over 80% of small businesses don’t have IT staff; and 73% of small business owners are responsible for purchasing technology for their businesses.
And truthfully, that’s ok. It doesn’t make sense for all small businesses to hire either a full-time internal IT or web development professional. It is just not cost-effective.
Benefits and Risks
Partnering with an external tech provider can be an ideal option to help solve a small businesses’ technology gaps. An external tech partner can bring expertise to your business allowing you to offload work to those with the right technical qualifications and skill set. This frees you up to spend your time on high-value tasks like marketing and product development that can truly grow your business.
But hiring a reputable, competent technical partner that you can trust is a messy, complex challenge full of stress and uncertainty. It’s like performing a trust fall with someone you do not know. If you make the wrong decision, it could have devastating consequences for your business. And you certainly don’t want to land flat on your back with the wind knocked out of you wondering what just happened.
Assessing and Selection
So, how do you identify suitable tech partners and then effectively assess them to ensure their services align with your business needs?
It all starts with asking the right questions; some being more critical than others. This is true whether you’re looking for website solutions or need someone to manage your network and security, provide consulting, or build you a database.
Before jumping straight to interviewing your next tech partner, make sure you are ready, in the right mind-set, and have realistic expectations. Start by asking these five critical business questions.
- How will outsourcing impact your business, employees and customers?
- What is the cost of not moving forward with outsourcing?
- What would happen if you stopped doing business with the provider?
- Have you defined the needs, goals and objectives?
- Who has the skill set to manage the relationship?
Determining your own readiness and having a strategic vision will help you take the next steps with due diligence, outreach, and effective interview-type discussions. You will want to interview multiple suitors. Both the 52 Questions for a Web Developer and 41 Questions for an IT Provider can be used to guide your assessment and help you ask the right questions.
Fostering the Best Relationship
Last, but not least, you will need to manage the relationship. Conflict can cause the relationship to turn adversarial quickly. There are strategies to creating a successful working relationship with your chosen technical service provider such as these 11 Tips for Successful Tech Partnering.
There’s a lot to think about when making a tech partnering commitment. A partnership with an experienced and trustworthy external technical provider can be cost-effective, lighten your work load, and help launch your business forward.
Bottom line, it’s all about the right fit and the specific needs of your business. Understanding the benefits (and risks), determining your readiness, and then selecting the right provider through thorough research and validated references will set you up for a sustainable and successful tech partnering relationship.
TechStak is a specialized tech and IT marketplace for small and medium businesses. The innovative B2B platform enables SMBs/SMEs to be matched and connected to vetted technology providers tailored to their business and industry needs. With the resource-consuming due diligence process out of the way, businesses can make faster, more confident tech partnering decisions ranging from website design and development to back office IT functions and more. For more information visit TechStak.com.