Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott talks about the agency lottery and how best to find your software implementation team .
As much as maybe I hate to say it, as a marketer for a software company, software itself does not solve business problems, people do. As Cathy McKnight, Co-Founder and Vice President of Consulting Operations firm Digital Clarity Group recently put it in an interview on Inside censhare :
Even with the world’s best technology, a mediocre team will deliver a mediocre implementation
For the vendor, this is a problem, as the failure of IT projects is normally assigned to their door. From day one these projects are named after the software package being implemented and not the people who are implementing it. But, of course, the consequences are much worse for the poor folks who made the mistake of choosing, to use Cathy’s expression, the mediocre team to do the implementation.
When you are purchasing software, you can follow a tried and tested route, maybe starting from an analyst’s or consultant’s recommendation that created a short list, going through the RFP process, seeing demos which hopefully are tailored to create some real world scenarios before moving on to a proof-of-concept (POC). Out of the box software is broadly binary, it can either do something, or it can’t, and you can see that. Even if your needs are a little more bespoke, you can get a good technical understanding of what is feasible. You also get a firm idea of what it will cost.
Choosing an agency or systems integrator is not so easy. Yes, Gartner does produce a Magic Quadrant for Global Digital Marketing Agencies , but it’s not really a useful resource unless you are looking for a Global Digital Agency – which you probably aren’t.
You also probably don’t have more money than God and have a desire to sit in big meeting rooms with a team which includes one talented person (who is the busiest person on the planet) and five suits of various flavors (Account Manager, Client Partner, project managers etc). But, that’s typically what you get when you hire one of these Magic Quadrant stars. Trust me, I have been there.
You need something more focused to your needs.
You can follow a similar procurement process as buying software, do the RFP, get a proposal, a pitch and a statement of work, but the whole process relies a lot more on trust.
During the process you need to develop trust in the agency, as a whole, not just the people in the room (who may not be in the room on day 62 of your implementation). So spend this time to work with them, maybe on a smaller project or POC, and get a proper feel for these guys.
If you are thinking of implementing censhare - and I don’t often use this column to horn toot – we have a partner program (as many vendors do). Notice we put ours under the “Client Success” section of the website, as this is what we believe it achieves.
If I were to make an independent recommendation about choosing a partner from a vendor, I would suggest you dig into the partner program, find out what it means to be a partner and if there is a process and certification. Some caution is needed here as some partner programs are just a case of swapping logos on their respective websites.
Aside from the vendor partner programs, I’ve noticed a rather cool service which Digital Clarity Group, an industry analyst and consulting company, is now offering; Partner Finder . It’s quite an ambitious project as they are match making between 75 different software products and 350 agencies. censhare has only recently been added to the list, so don’t expect to find our partners on there just yet, but I thought it is an interesting project to share.
In any case, these are just a few tips on selecting an agency partner or systems integrator, to help win at the agency lottery.