Partner concept with two hands putting together a puzzle

What to Look for in a Digital Transformation Partner

Finding the right digital transformation partner can be challenging. Discover top factors to consider while making this critical decision.

Partner concept with two hands putting together a puzzle

Table of Content

    Nothing about digital transformation is easy.

    Delivering on transformation goals demands a specific skill set that, let’s face it, a lot of companies haven’t quite mastered.

    It also requires a significant amount of time, resources, and “all-in commitment” from the entire org chart – from the front lines to the back office, the C-suite and everything in between.

    Naturally, that means there’s a lot that can go wrong, and for that reason, savvy business leaders understand that if they want to see this journey through, they can’t go it alone.

    A digital transformation partner helps organizations identify, implement, and optimize the best-fit solutions.

    In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of finding the right partner and what you need to know before committing to a provider. Read on to learn more about what goes into making this critical decision.

    Experience & Tech Capabilities

    While DX services tend to focus primarily on business and process improvements, partners that can also analyze, plan, develop and deploy the right technology are in the best position to help their clients weather the transformation storm.

    Now, experience is important, but it’s important that you define it in broad and flexible terms. For instance, you might intuitively seek out providers offering industry-specific experience – which totally makes sense. It’s just that, it isn’t everything.

    Companies are increasingly investing in DX initiatives that allow them to leverage the latest tech to build innovative solutions and generate valuable IP.

    They’re looking toward companies that already understand how, say, AI, blockchain, or the IoT can help them achieve their goals. And, they’re also looking for guidance for dealing with broader challenges like enabling remote work, securiing complex, distributed networks, and operationalizing big data.

    Instead, try to evaluate prospective partners based on their experience leading digital transformations – which, by nature, is all about adapting to changing conditions.

    For example, Velosio organizes its client segments around different business models. Think – professional services, agribusiness, field services, and so on. Now, within each of those segments, there’s a huge amount of diversity – but those categories are more about technological, regulatory, and business model challenges than things like size, culture, or the customers they serve. And, it’s these commonalities that define our approach to digital transformation.

    Yes, you want a partner that understands your industry, your business, and how to gain sustainable growth and market domination for years to come. More importantly, however, you want someone who knows exactly what it’s going to take to compete five, ten, 20 years down the line.

    Communication Skills

    Consider how much communication comes into play when you’re launching a new project or policy internally. Change just doesn’t happen without clear and constant communication between all stakeholders.

    The same logic applies when you’re bringing external partners into the fold. Perhaps more so, given that your digital transformation partner may be helping you improve internal communications as part of the overall DX strategy.

    In any case, you’ll want to do some investigating to learn more about your prospective partner’s communication skills.

    Look at content, social presence, and service offerings to get a general sense of whether experts are out-of-the-box thinkers — it’s this quality that will play an important part in helping your company lock down a competitive advantage later on.

    So, first, you’ll want to take a look at that company’s website and try to answer the following questions:

    • How do they talk about themselves?
    • What kinds of resources do they offer?
    • Does their content focus on things like business improvements, process optimization, and client outcomes?
    • Or is it all about the company and the technology they use? In other words, do they keep saying they’re the best without offering any evidence that it’s true?
    • Is your prospective partner a “thought leader?” in the DX space or within your industry?

    At the same time, it’s important to note that this is only “phase one” of your investigation. See, while you can weed out the more obvious “bad fits” with a handful of strategic Google searches, you’ll need to dig a bit deeper to find out which partner (or partners) is right for you.

    That means, you’ll need to have an actual conversation with the vendors on your short list before making any major commitments.

    Ask questions and see how they respond. Learn as much as you can about how they collaborate with clients, provide training and guidance. How do they approach things like planning and process optimization? Is information communicated clearly – and is it in such a way that makes sense for all stakeholders?

    Ultimately, you’re looking for a true partner that acts as an extension of your business — not the traditional vendor-client relationship built on short-term products and transactional interactions.

    Methodology

    The next thing you’ll need to look at is how prospective partners approach discovery, planning, execution, and long-term client support.

    Now, your goal here is two-fold.

    First, you’re trying to determine whether the vendor’s general approach aligns with your organization’s workflows, processes, and preferences. Often, a potential digital transformation sounds great on paper – they’ve got the right experience, great reviews, and real data that proves they can deliver the desired outcomes.

    Still, there’s always the possibility that the vendor isn’t quite the right fit due to creative differences, clashing personalities, or disagreements re: communication, workflows, or what tools to use to achieve X, Y, or Z.

    That means you’ll want to dive deeper, asking questions about how prospective vendors approach all stages of a transformation.

    For example, the discovery process shouldn’t be rushed. It’s a red flag when a prospective partner agrees to take you on as a client without asking questions about your pain points, strategic goals, or what your business is like – just in general.

    At the planning stage, you’ll want to find out more about the process your prospective partner uses to assess the current state of your business/system/processes and translate that information into an actionable plan.

    At the execution phase, ask questions about how they break DX initiatives into phases, measure progress, provide training, and so on.

    Client Roster

    Another way to gauge whether a prospective partner is a good fit is looking at the clients they’re already working with – and what kinds of results they’ve achieved during those engagements.

    Initially, you’ll want to look at reviews and testimonials to get a sense of whether people were happy with this vendor’s work.

    Read case studies to learn more about how this vendor has helped others in the past. You might even try to interview existing clients.

    A few examples of questions you might ask to narrow your search:

    • How do they engage customers? Ideally, your partner should engage in a strategic, yet empathetic manner.
    • What is their process for discovery, planning, and implementation?
    • What can they offer in terms of ongoing support? Like, will they play a proactive role in helping you optimize processes/strategies/etc. long-term?

    Here, your goal is figuring out whether your prospective partner can make good on the promises made in their web copy, case studies, and 1:1 conversations. In other words, is there tangible evidence they can deliver on critical objectives?

    Long-Term Support

    A true partnership is mutually beneficial – with both parties working together toward the same set of goals. As such, you’ll want to make sure your partner can align your DX objectives with customer needs and your big-picture business goals.

    You want to partner with a vendor that understands the landscape and is already looking at the next steps you should take, the next trends on the horizon, and what’s brewing within the depths of the competitive landscape. These capabilities, in turn, will help you figure out how to mitigate risk or further optimize business processes.

    Many digital transformation partners focus primarily on business and process improvements. Which, on the surface, sounds pretty good. The problem is, that approach isn’t always enough to deliver the kind of benefits digital transformation is supposed to achieve.

    It’s not just about these minor improvements. It’s about partnering with experts that enhance your business in ways that your internal teams either can’t or don’t have time for.

    Big-picture, you’re looking for partners that can analyze, plan, develop and deploy the best tactics and tech for the job and always have an eye toward the future.

    Try to answer the following questions:

    • How do prospective partners engage clients long-term?
    • How have they helped others overcome the DX challenges and barriers you’re currently facing?
    • What have they done since then to help those clients gain and sustain that competitive advantage?
    • How are they actively working to ensure clients stay ahead of the curve?
    • How do they keep a pulse on what’s happening within your industry?
    • How do they use industry insights in context to help clients optimize processes and reach new heights?

    The point is, digital transformation is an ongoing process. Which means, it’s important to find a partner that’s in it for the long haul.

    Final Thoughts

    No matter what transformation means for your organization, taking on this journey without the right team of experts on your side is a risk that could undermine future success.

    A digital transformation partner can help you design, execute, and accelerate transformation and achieve long-term success amid relentless and rapid change. With the right partner — or partner ecosystem — your organization can tap into new skills, contacts, and insights that can help you get ready for the future and compete on a whole new level.

    Velosio offers proactive advisory services, with a deeper & more detailed discovery cycle, to create a robust & concrete foundation. We’ll help you find the best cloud provider for your specific needs, develop cloud-native applications, and move away from your legacy system once and for all.

    Contact us today to get in touch with a digital transformation expert.

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