If you are working on a large digital transformation project you might need to hire an implementation company to help with the implementation of the project. In some cases, you may be able to use the professional services of the company that wrote the software. In other cases, you will want to hire an independent firm. We could go through all the reasons for and against each option but will leave that for another white paper. Here we will go through the key steps to selecting a firm to help with your system implementation.
The first step is getting a list of implementation companies that you can evaluate. In some cases, you can ask the software manufacturer for some referrals, but it is best if you can network with your peers to get recommendations for or against some companies. Other options are to attend an event hosted by the software manufacturer.
My starting list of the key criteria that I want to use to compare each of the companies is:
- In business for X years or more
- Specializes in the software package you have selected and has a focus on your industry sector
- The number of employees is a good match for your company
- Proven implementation methodology
- Proven change management methodology
- Successful track record
- Good references
You should add any other criteria that are important to you.
Narrow the list down to 2-3 companies and then go into depth with each one.
Make sure you agree with the methodology the company will use to implement the project. The methodology they use should match the size of the project.
Make sure the company is well suited to handle your size project. They should have worked on other similar projects and have a bunch of people you can call on if something happens to one of the people that are on your project team.
Make sure you check references. The references are the most important check you can do to determine if the sales pitch is real.
Then ask to meet the people who will be working on the project. After all, is said and done: You are hiring a team of people from the company, NOT the company, while the company may be providing some support to the team, you are hiring a specific team from the company so make sure you vet the team.
- Meet the people they will assign to the project. If they will not specify the people or just introduce you to people that are currently available, that is a big red flag, and you should probably not go any further with that company.
- Check references for the people on the project team. You do not care about projects done by other people in the company. You only care about references for the people on your project. If they cannot give you a reference for the people (even if they were at previous companies), that is a big red flag, and you should probably not go any further with that company.
- The contract you sign should specify that those people will be part of the project team and that:
- You can cancel if they are not
- That they will not be re-assigned before the end of the project
- That they will be available if required to help with additional items after the project is completed. (Note you will also want to give the same consent to have them provide emergency support to previous clients for short periods of time)
- They will not be working on any other projects while they are working on your project.
Finally, make sure you have a contract that protects your rights. Many times, I work with companies that have their lawyers review the contract and they are only capable of making sure all the boilerplate sections of the contract are correct. Check that the contract specifically has sections that detail:
- What they will do
- What they will deliver
- What is the timeline
- What are reasonable termination options
- Who will be assigned to the project?
- What are the penalties if they do not deliver?