How to do IT right: a perfect provider

By | March 19, 2012

Finding a perfect IT provider may be quite a challenging task. However, you will reach a point in your business, when you need to go online through getting a website done, or a webstore created, and a number of things to be considered, and when that happens, you will really need to stop for a moment and answer a few questions, once you’ve narrowed down your list of IT providers. What should be asked and what answers would be right? I’ve asked around and came up with the following.

1. When I am about to order a project from you, how will you estimate your work, before I sign the actual contract? There are two options to that: either they give you one figure, that will most likely be overpriced, or underpriced to attract the client, and as a result the project will fail to release on time; or they name you a range of price where there is space for further analysis and additions, which is more natural for any project. Obviously, the second answer is what you want to hear.

2. Who do I discuss my project with, before and after we’ve signed the contract? Most companies hire sales managers for this role, sometimes with technical background, sometimes without. The ‘right’ answer would be “a sales manager who has experience in technical field” or other technical staff, if a sales rep. doesn’t have such a skill: from Business Analyst to Project Manager.

3. How do you define the term of a project? Quite a lot of IT solutions providers like to give sounding promises – whatever attracts more clients, as they say. That usually sounds like ‘We will do this for you in no time’ but it never looks good. The correct answer from a truly experienced IT provider would be suggesting different types of work models with lifecycles, explaining in detail what and when will be done and how long each phase will take.

4. How do you start a project? Some companies like to get down to ‘work’ immediately, correcting mistakes and dealing with change requests on the go. However, what you want your IT provider to follow is the requirements analysis. This type of work allows for mutual understanding at a very start of the project and helps eliminate critical points later in the process.

5. If my project is long, how do I know it’s going the way I want it to? The answer is rather obvious – regular demo presentations after each significant phase.

Nonetheless, there are not only questions to be answered. See if the providers you are looking at are easy to contact and talk to, if they are responsive enough and provide enough information on your requests. Make sure they seem interested in you as a client: are they asking enough questions, are their answers detailed enough (mentioning professional terms like Zen Cart, Sage, Magento MYOB, etc.) yet still available for your understanding. Check out their presence in social media – additional information is always helpful. That may include not only business and social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook and Twitter, but blogs as well. If the companies you are considering give free advice online and are being useful to a wide audience that can be a good sign, too.

Select carefully and have a great time online!

Guest Post Author: Elena Bizina, Marketing department of Holbi. Takes particular interest in eCommerce industry to learn from top professionals and share with beginners like herself. In the past  – an English teacher and a Business Development Manager, at present – a full-time mother and a part-time Assistant to Marketing Manager whose core responsibilities are researching the eCommerce industry and writing about it.