The most important question to ask a prospective retail technology partner
When looking for a partner to help you with technology development or implementation, the options can be overwhelming. How do you tell the difference between companies? Don’t they all promise to do the same thing? And doesn’t it really come down to who can do the work at the least cost?
Every technology integration company will say they can execute the project you need. But the real questions are: What will be the process for completing the project? Will it be predictable? And rather than cost, I’d argue that the most important question is, What will my relationship be like with this partner?
The business of technology integration
As a provider of retail system integration and development services for clients ranging from small regional chains to the world’s most recognized brands, these are what we have identified as the most important aspects of technology integration.
Development: New technology and systems often require customization to integrate fully and properly. A partner should identify where and what is needed to fit the technology to your needs. And if you can’t find the perfect software, the partner should develop a custom solution from the ground up.
Implementation: When implementing a system a partner should use a dedicated team of functional and technical experts who employ a unique delivery methodology to manage issues, risks, and scope. This allows them to anticipate and mitigate obstacles before they become problematic.
Support: Implementing support, from operations to training to maintenance, to ensure that your system runs flawlessly. Your specialist should offer customized support services that work seamlessly with your retail system maintenance program, to give you another layer of protection without the extra hassle.
Strategic technology planning: An integration specialist should help you determine the software needed to reach your goals and make a business case that champions your strategy. Furthermore, they should advise and guide clients on change management processes to improve the adoption of a new system and workforce productivity.
What clients have told us about what works best for them
When asked why about their choices and preferences, clients most often cite these three concerns: approach, expertise and company culture.
An integration approach is strategic and tailored. A partner should not impose a generic project plan on clients. Integration teams act as advisors, problem solvers and proactive partners who examine a project from many perspectives and leverage their expertise to offer the best solution. Throughout the project, the partner’s culture of honesty and integrity is demonstrated. Post-implementation, they enable and support your team to ensure a smooth deployment.
Most importantly, a technology partner’s priority should be the long-term, strategic needs of a client. It’s through this lens that you should examine the ultimate question of what to expect out of your relationship with a technology partner.
Tom Schoen is president of BTM Global, a provider of retail system integration and development services. Through strategy, development, implementation and support, BTM Global approaches each project as a partnership that helps clients become more seamless, efficient and profitable. For more information, visit www.btmglobal.com.
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