Form partnerships with the talent.
Over the years it has become my practice to make decisions related to service engagements by betting on the talent assigned and not the resources of the company nor the salesmanship of the sales team. If I found out a resource who produced had moved to a new organization, I would follow that resource. At the end of the day the people delivering the service are the ones that will make the project successful or not. When engaging with a service provider of any type it is wise to get to know the resource(s) that will be assigned to your account.
A name is not a Partner.
Some firms make decisions based on company size and not resources being allocated to them. In the past it was common to hear “you can’t be fired for hiring IBM.” How could you go wrong by hiring the darling of Wall Street and the largest provider in the world! Times have changed and the internet has become the great equalizer. Today you are judged based on how you performed no matter who you engaged with. People are now held accountable for their decisions regardless of who they engaged with. It’s no longer acceptable to have a project fail and hold someone else accountable when you are the leader.
Remember why you wanted a partnership in the first place.
When making a decision related to service providers you should be looking at value, which in this case means a system delivered on time and within budget. This is largely based on the talent assigned either internally and/or through a service provider. The success of any project is dependent on the talent assigned. Talent exists in your own organization as well as within the large and small firms offering services to you. When looking for a solution partner look for someone who can deliver what was promised and is accountable to you. Judge them by the talent they bring.
Look for a partner that will listen.
In the VC world the saying is ‘Bet on the Jockey and not the Horse”. Know who the jockey is that will be assigned to your account. Make them a part of your team and accountable to you just like a member of your own firm. A Jockey should have the background and knowledge to understand your business and the challenge at hand. I’ve seen people hired from other industries and placed into a new environment without any knowledge of the business. For most, taking the time to understand the business was the deciding factor between success and failure. You only know what you know, listening and observing is a powerful tool for success. Look for that Jockey who listens and learns about the horse before taking it into the race.
It’s a people business.