How do you pick the best IT services company for your specific delivery needs?

by Ray Cooke on 19/05/2016 10:00

When you need the help of an IT services company you no doubt will want a company that is going to help you deliver the result your organisation needs. Finding and picking the right IT company for your circumstances is not always straight forward, so in this Blab we covered the question "How do you pick the best IT services company for your specific delivery needs?"

You may also be interested in our previous Blab question relating to this topic What should you expect from your IT service provider?

Blab presenters

Our presenters during the Blab presentation are:

  • Top Left-hand side: Ray Cooke, Lean and Agile business transformation coach, Equinox IT Wellington office
  • Top Right-hand side: Carl Weller, Senior Consultant, Equinox IT Wellington office
  • Bottom Left-hand side: Paul Ramsay, Principal Consultant, Equinox IT Wellington office.

Transcript of conversation

Ray: "How do you pick the best IT services company for your delivery needs?" As you've already alluded to, Paul, there are obviously different constraints and different types of organisations. So within government, there's kind of the RFP process, there are panels, the all-of-government options. I guess how do we pick from within that? And also as a private organisation, how can we go about finding a good organisation to work with to help on that delivery basis? Just on that note, Paul has written a blog post on this very topic previously, which I'm going to stick in the Twitter feed now for people to look up. So not that we're looking for you, Paul, at all to leave a comment on this one.

Paul: Yeah, if you're looking at a company other than Equinox IT, then you go back to some of those initial points. First of all, do they have the necessary skills to actually undertake the work? What evidence can you see of that, both in terms of the resources that they have available and the references that they have as well. So a good company who has the right people will also have the right references and will be able to point you to case studies and to other clients who have undertaken similar work.

Is it a good company to engage with? Does their engagement model fit what we talked about before where they're looking for a partnership sort of arrangement where they want to understand what your needs and issues are before they get into the all-too-easy task in some cases of thinking you've got the answer to the problem? So how do they engage, how do they work with you, are they people of their word and integrity in terms of the way in which they operate, and do they look for that mutual win-win in terms of any particular opportunity; that they deliver a good result for you, and in doing so, they have a successfully referenceable client as well.

Ray: That works fairly well if you've already got someone you've worked with before and they can recommend for you. I guess there are going to be plenty of people who are in a scenario where actually they've not engaged an IT delivery function before, they don't know how to get a piece of software made. Where on earth does somebody start? Is Google your friend or is it kind of...I imagine that's quite a thorny problem for some people.

Paul: Yeah, I think that's a good question in the sense that I think the reality is that a lot of services now, IT services, are quite often self-selected where the customer has exactly done what you've said, Ray, which is they've gone out there, they've looked on Google, they've gone to your website, they've had a look on the website, they've looked at the list of services or the case studies, they like the cut of Carl's chin, and say, "Yeah, that's the organisation that we want to go with."

I think the same is true for us as consumers as well. Nowadays I think people are much more savvy in the way that they procure. They go out there, they shop around, they compare prices, they look for good, trustworthy organisations that they can deal with, and they look to have a good working relationship as well, because I think that's really important. You might think you win at the front end, but you lose at the back end in terms of maintenance and operations, for example. So it is really important, one of the important considerations is to have that whole-of-life view as well.

Ray: Yeah. We'll get on to the contracts in a minute, but obviously how you then engage those organisations and the kind of organisations that will work with you in a mutually beneficial way as opposed to contracts with specific deliverables and doesn't necessarily then...as the person procuring services you have to worry about making sure you've got absolutely everything nailed from a requirements standpoint in terms of that total cost of ownership and that end-of-life view, because your vendor, your provider, won't necessarily be driven to think of that wider picture that actually you care about long term.

Paul: And I think that's certainly an area where Carl's had, I think, some good observations around slightly different approaches to engagement, and that might be a good one for you to talk a little bit about, Carl.

Carl: Yeah. I did find myself thinking, we talk about partnership and trust, but trust is earned and partnerships grow. I personally would be quite suspicious of someone who came up to me and said, "Let's be partners. Let's go forth and do great things under a very trustful relationship." I'd really want to give them opportunities to actually earn that trust and show me that they can meet commitments that they make, and if that's chunking up your projects smaller or perhaps something as small as just asking them for a bit of advice that you may not be charged for, it's just about growing that relationship over time, not thinking you're going to find the perfect provider straight away.

Ray: Yeah, don't go straight for the $100 million RFP.

Carl: Yeah.

Paul: And I think that's a really good observation that Carl makes. These things need to be demonstrated. So it's giving appropriate opportunities for those values and behaviours to be demonstrated in the relationship that you look to build. And I guess that's the other important thing. Those relationships are built over time, but they can be lost in a moment. So there's always a continual focus on the relationship that you have and the delivery of value and of service to the customer.

Ray: Yeah. So actually because a lot of this is about the next question anyway that we've been putting off, we're going to plop that straight in there now. 

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