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November 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 11
Integrator's Corner

Getting the Best from a Network Implementation Services Provider

Finding and Choosing the Right Firm

Ask the manufacturer for recommendations. The manufacturer typically has a stake in ensuring that their products will be implemented effectively, and thus are careful in qualifying the partners they recommend.

Ask members of your user group community. Who has had a similar project delivered? What was their experience? How did they find their provider? Has the provider completed similar projects in the past successfully? How complex was the project? Have they used them for follow-on work? Would they use them again? Does the provider have a presence within your geographical footprint? Do they possess the expected industry and manufacturer certifications? Do they have sufficient resources with the skill set(s) and experience you require to meet your needs? Do the appropriate manufacturer support relationships exist if their assistance is required?

Ask for what you want. Narrow the selection to two candidates and begin the quote process with both using a non-mission critical project. How does each provider respond? How effective they are at understanding your needs? Do they add value and make knowledgeable recommendations? Keep in mind, you are under no obligation to award work to a firm if you solicit them for a quote. Get a fixed-price quote.

Getting the Best out of the Firm You’ve Chosen

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. It would be great if you could pass the project off to the outside firm and back out of the picture, but that’s a path to near-certain disappointment. As the firm becomes more familiar with your environment, their independence will increase, but you must remain sufficiently engaged to ensure the project’s success. You may be asked for project-critical information that only the customer can obtain; provide such information accurately and promptly.

Assume that, “If it’s not written, it’s never been said.” Don’t leave key understanding to conversations; be sure to formalize it within the SOW, a change order, or minimally via email to ensure mutual understanding and agreement. IT projects are complex enough when everyone is on “the same page”; if they’re not, real frustration, disappointment and additional time and expense can ensue. Work to create a supportive, collaborative, trustful relationship and you’ll reap the rewards. A collaborative roundtable format is especially effective for establishing trust...

Expect issues to arise. All projects, whether completed internally or with an outside provider, experience issues. Even the best firms can’t avoid them all. Typically, their good reputation is based on how they manage and resolve issues when they arise. IT

Raymond Nahorniak is Director of Network Solutions (News - Alert) Services Delivery at Forsythe Solutions Group.

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