The learning curve is when you are not as effective or efficient as you would want because you are still learning about something. We all start the same way, so practically, there is no harm in trial/error, exploration or educated guessing.
However, when you are a business and spend money to have a product implemented, this is not optimum. It leads to wasted time, lots of rework and costly mistakes. It is important for businesses to sort out those who are still learning from true experts: They need to maximize their dollars by working with solution / service providers who will be effective and efficient long-term partners.
Consider the following topics and questions when evaluating solution providers:
1. Will the solution implementation be efficient?
As a business, your goal is to get the right solution set up in as quick a time as possible for as little money as possible.
Successful before? Certainly, you would not want to work with a company/someone who has never implemented the software. By asking about the number of times they have gone through the process, digging into known issues to see how they approached any problems and asking for referrals, you will get an overview about how skilled the provider is and how seamlessly implementation will happen.
Managed option? If your business is looking to save on equipment and personnel costs, you may be seeking cloud options. A provider who is able to offer this is likely more established, having the resources and workforce/team in place to support this level of service delivery for their customers across the board.
2. Are the necessary skills available to properly customize the solution for you?
Of course, not all products fit your business exactly right off the shelf, so you will want to work with an expert who can help tailor it to your needs.
Quick with configuration? Many products offer a wide range of configuration options. For instance, the OTRS service management solution has more than 2,500! Knowing exactly which ones to use at what point comes with time, experience, and working with many customers across multiple industries, each of whom has a unique use case. This is how to uncover the best, fastest and cheapest way to fit the software to your needs.
Are they skilled at custom development and its impacts on the product? Sometimes, it is not simply a configuration that is required. Development might be called upon to adjust the software to a customer’s request. Here, if the provider is not an expert, businesses can quickly churn through extra dollars as the provider strives to get to a workable solution. Worse is when the provider is not the source code owner. In this case, the lack of knowledge can mean that he/she inadvertently creates custom code that negates security considerations that had been originally implemented by the manufacturer, leaving your company’s data at risk and operationally compromised.
Lack of knowledge can mean that he/she inadvertently creates custom code that negates security considerations that had been originally implemented by the manufacturer, leaving your company's data at risk and operationally compromised.
Roadmap depicting innovation and attention to trends? It is also important to consider what the product roadmap consists of. Is there a plan by the provider for consistently innovating and keeping the product in line with modern trends and features? Do they take into consideration product improvements?
3. How will I know what to do when I start to log in and use the system?
Then, hand-over happens. Now, your admins have access to this new tool. Perhaps end users are starting to get on board. How ready are they? Is your provider available to offer assistance through this phase?
Training and support strategy? A solution provider that’s a true expert looks beyond simple implementation. They are prepared to meet your needs after the hand-over while your administrators gain skills and confidence with the new platform. Double-check that your provider has a tried and true approach to offering training and support. If not, you may end up stuck with a robust platform that you don’t know how to use, wasting money and resources because its full potential is not being leveraged.
How about the documentation? Of course, administrators and users can’t learn everything in a couple of training sessions, so what happens next? An established expert provider will invest time and money into creating useful documentation that explains the software and helps with problem solving. It ensures long-term sustainability for the solution. For example, all OTRS Group customers have access to admin and user manuals to guide them, as well as updated videos and webinars to support them after implementation.
Have you figured out upgrades? In time, it’s only logical that you will want to upgrade the software. With new trends, features and functionality introduced often, there will be something new that would save your team time (and money). When that occurs, how complex will upgrading be? Was the eventual need to upgrade considered during customization, or did the provider’s lack of experience cause the underlying code to be modified in a way that makes upgrades impossible? An expert will take this need into account so that you are not left stranded down the road.
4. What happens if I get stuck?
Experts will make sure that you have the right resources on your side to be successful. They will always be there for you when your business needs it.
SLAs in place? Expert solution providers do not hide. They will clearly explain to you what you can expect in terms of their service level agreements (a documented statement of the KPIs used to measure performance, as well as what consequences are to occur if these are not met). They will have a predefined structure in place to offer prompt support and assistance that you can rely upon.
Focus on security? With cybercrime on the rise and data privacy regulations in effect in most parts of the world, security is of the utmost importance these days. Is this a conversation that the provider is having with you? An expert should always have an eye on what is critical for your business long-term, not simply today while they are getting the current project done. He or she should talk with you about topics like Privacy by Design, data center security and how they have resolved any past vulnerabilities.
Company longevity? It’s also important to consider how long the business has been operating in the market. A solo practitioner or a new shop who has been in business for only a handful of years may not still be working later on when you need additional support or services. An expert has already put the time in and will stay at your side as your company grows.
It has been said that experts are just people who have already made mistakes. There are many service providers out there, all of whom offer useful technology and consulting services. The fundamental question is, are all of them experts?
Hence, what is your answer to the statements above?
If you have considered the points above and are still unsure, keep shopping: Amateurs and fly-by-night organizations will have to practice on your dime, which does not pay off in the end. Keep digging until you find an expert.
Are you interested in service management software to help your team improve process automation, communication, task management, and KPI measurement? Talk with an OTRS expert today.
Contributed by: Daphne Sim