For whatever reason, you’re in the market for a new business solutions provider, and this time you want to make sure you get it right. How do you know which partner is the best option for your company? If this is your first time working with a Microsoft Dynamics product you want the experience to be a pleasant one, and if you’re shopping for a new one, you want a better experience than your last.
Here are four tips when it comes to evaluating partners:
- Experience and Expertise
Just like you don’t want major surgery being performed by a first year medical student, you don’t want to partner with a company that has very little experience in the field. You want someone who understands the product, your industry, and the Microsoft culture. This can only be gained through years of experience. Now, don’t mistake a new company for inexperience. Some new start-ups are run and owned by people that have been in the game for years; they just wanted to be their own boss this time around
Next you need to look for expertise. Experience is only one tool. A company could have been partner with Microsoft for years, but how well did they perform? If you can find those partners that continually pass certification tests to stay up with the times, you probably have found a partner that cares about what it does. Generally those companies that are Microsoft Gold or Silver Certified Partners have taken the steps to ensure that they are experts in their respective field(s).
- Good Fit
Chances are that you’re looking for a permanent solution to your problem. You don’t want to have to shop around for a new partner every time a problem arises, which means you’re going to need to build a relationship with this company. So, you have to ask yourself, “Is this company a good fit for us?” This can sometimes be based solely on a gut feeling and sometimes it’s a more outward revelation. A company that doesn’t answer their phones, is slow to respond to emails, or seem rude is probably just a sign of things to come.
Implementations, customizations, technical-support, and training all take time, which mean you’re going to be spending time with the company you choose to partner with. Choosing a company that you’re comfortable with and can build a strong rapport with is crucial when you’re going to be spending so much time together. Plus, things always go more smoothly when you trust the other party. If you can speak easily with them, you’re less likely to butt-heads when problems arise.
You’re running a business here, so it’s understandable that you’re looking to minimize cost wherever you can. Just don’t let cost be your driving force for picking a partner. Sometimes going with the cheapest option means you’re going to get the cheapest service. Maybe their cost is lower because they don’t offer all the extras that you could really benefit from. On the other hand, price doesn’t necessarily determine quality. The most expensive company doesn’t guarantee the most bang for the buck. It’s important to shop the competition and get a real sense of what you’re going to get out of the company before figuring in cost, which is why cost is the last factor in choosing a solutions provider. You may find that there are a lot frills and thrills that you would pay for with a more expensive company that your company doesn’t necessarily need.
Picking a company that is honest and up-front with you is always a good metric by which to judge a company. Again you’re going to be working with each other for lengthy periods at a time, so making sure you can trust one another is important. You can usually tell a company’s intentions early on in the process. If they are more willing to WORK WITH YOU ran than SELL TO YOU, you’re probably on the right path.
A good company should be able to listen to all your wants and needs and explain how each can be met. If they don’t offer a good explanation as to how a certain product or service can meet your needs, they probably are just trying to make the sale. You’re better off going with a company that is honest with you and tells you which of your wants/needs can be met and which can’t. If there are indications that they would rather create a long-lasting, sustainable relationship rather than promote their own bankroll, it might be worth giving them a shot.
Sometimes there are more factors to add to your query. Maybe you want a partner that is close geographically in case something goes wrong they can be there on short notice. Maybe someone recommended a certain company to you and you trust that person’s advice, or maybe you read about the company doing something important in the community that you find appealing. Whatever your additional factors are make sure they are in addition to the four previously stated.
Finding the right company is not always the easiest choice. You’re not always going to get everything you want from every company, and sometimes you might bite off more than you can chew. However, if you follow these tips in your search there is a good chance that you can at least narrow your search down to a handful of good companies. A good partner can make a world of a difference, so it is important to take your time and clearly evaluate all of your options.