Recently, I have had several conversations with buyers struggling to select service providers for the cloud implementations.
Cloud photo credit: Michael Krigsman
The choice of services provider can determine the success or failure of any enterprise deployment, as my many posts on the IT Devil's Triangle make clear.
Also read: Exploring the Devil's Triangle
After choosing which software makes sense for your organization, deciding on a services provider is the next significant decision. In fact, quality and availability of professional services may be important criteria when deciding which software to buy.
Given the differences between cloud and on-premise deployments, it is important to select a services partner with the right experience. Here are seven tips to point you in the right direction:
- Demonstrated expertise in the product you are buying. Find a provider with deep knowledge in the specific product you plan to buy. Ask the service provider for a list of engagements with your proposed product – including the particular modules you are considering.
- Expertise in your specific vertical. Seek service providers with clear experience in your particular industry and market segment. Ask for references in your industry, with companies that have similar characteristics, such as revenues, number of employees, and so on. If you are a small machine shop, for example, don’t hire a services provider that specializes in implementing software for multinational manufacturers.
- Complementary solutions. Some implementers have such deep expertise in specific vertical segments that they develop specialized software add-ons that could benefit you. Implementers that have developed vertical solutions often have sophisticated knowledge of that market and great technical expertise.
- Global implementation expertise. Enterprise cloud deployments can go global quickly, so select a partner with international experience, if relevant to your company. Your services partner should have experience with remote training, international support, and accounting and regulatory issues in your overseas markets.
- Cloud integration skill. Ensure your professional services team knows how to leverage “cloud-to-cloud” integrations using web services. Cloud integrations can save time and money, so use them when possible.
- Committment to iterative development and user adoption. User adoption is the lifeblood of successful enterprise deployments. Find a services provider with proven experience using iterative approaches to align IT and business users.
- Hire a company you like and trust. Your implementation is one step in a long-term relationship between you, the software vendor, and the services provider. In the end, credentials don’t mean anything unless you trust the person sitting across the table. Trust builds confidence and creates durable relationships that will endure over time. Do business with companies that place your success at the top of their list.
We can hardly overstate the importance of professional services on enterprise software implementations. Although we often think that cloud is simple and easy, any business transformation effort requires the right guidance and experience. For that reason, professional services is equally important to cloud deployments as to on-premise implementations. (This list is adapted from a white paper I wrote for NetSuite.)
Please comment with your advice and experience on professional services in the cloud.