Image Courtesy of Nicola Corboy on Flickr.com

You’re thinking about that brand new content management system or CRM platform or enterprise MRM. You’ve already fought a good fight and made leadership understand that this is the right move for you and your organization. You’ve already bridged the gap and found the answer – and the answer is in this tool.

And then it hits you that you might need a technology partner for this entire project.

That’s right – a third-party service provider. Ew.

Technology partners give you the heeby-jeebies – they try to upsell you, oversell you, overpromise, and underdeliver. You’d rather it just be someone internal you can trust, but you quickly realize that if you’re going to have the enterprise platform of your dreams, it kind of comes with a partner whom you don’t really know. They’re strangers – and that makes it awkward from the get-go.

Also see: The World’s Best Sitecore Partners & Developers

How do you overcome the partner-fear and find someone who can work with you?

Well, we’ve come up with a list of how to choose the right technology partner that is the perfect fit for your organization – and will hopefully prevent you from getting bamboozled, or worse, in serious trouble with leadership.

They Have Clients with Similar Challenges (Bonus: In Your Industry)

This should almost go without saying. Has the partner solved a problem like yours? We don’t consider it to be absolutely necessary for the partner’s case study to be in the same industry, but it certainly helps if the partner knows your industry just as well, if not better, as you!

They Show a History of Flexibility

Some partners have a rigid process – and it makes sense. They have a formula for success, and in order to get everything in time and within  scope, they have the proper workflows and processes in place to limit chaos and encourage completion.

Even with a successful formula your partner should show some degree of flexibility. Every organization is different, even within the same industry, and has different cultures, problem sets, and processes. This is why your partner should be able to work within all and more of those organizational aspects to adapt.

Can’t decide if you need a tech partner? Chat with us!

They Are Able to Set Realistic Goals for the Project

The biggest complaint we hear is that the technology partner someone decided to work with ended up creating pipe-dreams for the entire team. The partner could neither realistically promise nor deliver. And sometimes, the blowback is severe. A massive project was accepted with a timeline of only a month – a sure recipe for failure.

Be sure your partner gives you a timeline and there are check points at those dates to ensure the best results. Get to know your partner, ask questions and manage their expectations as well as your own.

Their Services Are Top-Quality and Are Recognized for It

Choose a technology partner that has clout. And no, I don’t mean www.Klout.com, although it might not be a bad idea to check out the scores of the people running your project. But seriously – find a technology partner with multiple accolades and recognition (especially from the technologies or institutions that they pride themselves in). If they come highly recommended from both strangers and friends alike, chances are they aren’t going to let you down.

They Care – A Lot

Do you have that best friend who would always tell you the truth because they care more about you and your well-being than anyone else? Even when you didn’t want to hear it? Or how about the best friend who goes out of their way to make sure you’re doing well. A partner should be the same way. They should tell you when your train of thought is a little off and guide you in the right direction -tactfully of course.

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Their Project Managers Are Hardcore

Project managers are gods – or at least, we should revere them as such. They have the hardest job in the whole lifecycle of your project. They not only have to manage you and your team, but their internal teams as well. Expectations and understandings are easily lost in translation if the PM isn’t great at what they do. PMs carry a tremendous amount of responsibility, and they should be able to wield it like an Excalibur or Mjolnir.

Before choosing a partner, find who is going to be your PM(s) – and then stalk them on LinkedIn. If they are anything like Thor, you’re going to want them.

They Admit They’re Not Perfect At Everything

Some agencies partners will nod to all of the capabilities you ask about. Of course they can do SEO, analytics, content creation, branding, advertising, PR, .NET development, MongoDB, email marketing, and design for you! Those are all the same, right? Well, not quite. Some full-service agencies are truly great at everything in their field, but most jack-of-all-trades fall short in some areas. And like the saying goes, they are usually masters of none.

While it’s painfully difficult to say “no” to a client, keep in mind that you wouldn’t want them to say “yes” and then be terrible at it – especially if you don’t find out for years that mobile development was never a core competency of theirs to begin with and you’ve wasted tons of money trying to make it right. We’ve seen this happen tons of times, but we understand the appeal of a full-service partner – someone who can provide you everything you need at will.

They’re Specialists

While your partner shouldn’t claim they can do everything, they should at least claim specialties in a few things. HubSpot is the inbound marketing platform of your dreams – but you’ll notice they’re specific: inbound marketing. Not direct mail or advertising. Just inbound. Look for that level of specialist in your future technology partner as well!

They Continue To Grow and Mature

Finally, your technology partner should be growing and maturing. Partners that flounder can mean several things, but in general, this is not a sign. Your partners competencies should grow with time and work. A true measure of this is when you work with a partner on one project, with time another and notice improvements on how they work with you, advise you, and expertise shown.

Also see: 5 Key Components of the Client/Agency Relationship – A Panel Discussion

Have you chosen a partner? Looking for a new one? If they meet the criteria here you’re as good as gold -if not apply this guide to to your next partnership decision and see how much better it goes.

Click here to learn more about Arke!

Asia Matos was the Director of Marketing at ARKE Systems where she oversaw all of the marketing channels and operations for the organization. In her role, Asia managed lead generation-focused content strategy, traffic acquisition, campaign execution, and event planning. She worked daily with content management systems like Sitecore and Wordpress, the analytics platforms of Google Analytics and the Sitecore Experience Platform, and contributed her extensive experience with email service providers like Silverpop and ClickDimensions. Asia was the editor and writer of ARKE’s blog MarketingTechnologyInsights.com. Asia is now the #FlipMyFunnel Demand Generation Manager for Terminus.