Ask any project manager what the number one contributor to a successful project result is, and they will tell you that it’s having the right people on the team. That goes for vendors too. Because behind every consulting gig are people making decisions that influence your company’s future.
The decision to select an Atlassian Business Partner is a big one. The stakes are high, with perhaps millions of dollars and people’s careers hanging in the balance. A bad vendor decision could haunt you for a decade or longer.
The process for choosing a vendor usually starts with a referral, or viewing the Atlassian Partner Directory. However, with over 50 Platinum Partners distributed across the globe, it can be overwhelming. After visiting a few of the partner websites, you may be no closer to a decision.
Praecipio is an Atlassian Platinum Partner, and can offer his thoughts on how to approach the partner selection process to ensure your project is delivered on time and within budget.
To start, here's a list of "must-haves". Any vendors not having these should be immediately disqualified.
Look for relevant experience
To be approved as an Atlassian Partner, you must have smart people. All companies can easily add up the years of experience among their people and come up with an impressive number. But that’s not the differentiator between firms. Don’t accept a general numerical answer. Dig deeper and ask for specific experience in your industry and what the scope of those projects were.
There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with a person that isn’t empowered to make decisions. You want top levels of management to be familiar with your project and understand its strategic value. This way they can apply their leadership and senior experience to add value. You want them to ask questions about workflow, reporting, integrations, and how it relates to the overall goal of the project.
Rate of repeat business
As the saying goes, “The best predictor of future success is past behavior.” Ask the vendor about their rate of return business. It’s perhaps the clearest indicator of a company's performance and customer satisfaction. Praecipio proudly states that, “72% of our business last year was from repeat clients. Any competent firm should be able to tell you their number. If they don’t know it, that's a red flag in itself.”
Percentage of revenue from change orders
Avoid the bait and switch. Managers want to deal in absolutes when it comes to money and time required to get the job done. You don’t want to fall in a trap of working with a vendor only to be told that your request wasn’t included in the original scope. For example, at Praecipio, we have a defined process to expose any and all needs of a project. By clearly defining the work from the start, you avoid missed expectations and expensive changes. For our team, this process starts with defining the problem in the sales process and includes engineers and other technical people. If there are any limitations or features to add for the solution, they contribute to the conversation. All parties move in lockstep, and a delivery commitment is made. The process has proven to work, as only 2% of our revenue last year came from change orders. Lastly, pay attention to how much value is delivered before the signed contract.
Listed in the Atlassian Partner Directory
Only choose a partner from the official Atlassian Partner Directory. These companies have demonstrated their expertise and willingness to dedicate themselves to the software. They have to make an investment to be included, and their business model revolves around partner support. Using any other firm not vetted by Atlassian should be approached with extreme caution and is not recommended.
Platinum Partners have the most experience and have been doing this type of work the longest. They have been recognized as the best and have inside knowledge about new products, features, and beta testing. For example, our leadership team members have participated in panels, councils, and have had an influence in building the software and program itself.
What do they stand for?
Commonly referred to as mission, vision, and values, look for what drives the vendor beyond earning revenue. Do they share your same morals and values? Besides words on a website, do they walk the walk on issues like social justice and environmentalism? We've seen more customers comment recently on their social injustice stance and Praecipio's commitment to the 1% pledge initiative. “We’ve always been socially aware and decided to build a company that leaves the world better than we found it. I’m proud of our ideals. As part of our hiring process, we want to make sure employees can get behind our causes and work toward the greater good. When clients recognize our efforts, it fuels our fire to want to do more.”
Net Promoter Score
Ask vendors what their Net Promoter Score (NPS) is. NPS is a commonly accepted simple score of how likely customers are to refer you to their peers.
- 0-6 are detractors, meaning they will tell people to stay away from your firm and NOT hire you.
- 7-8 are passive promoters, meaning they will praise you when asked
- 9-10 are active promoters, meaning they will go out of their way to tell peers about your good work
Praecipio holds a lifetime NPS score of 71 (for context, the industry benchmark for software and tech companies is 28). Our team is proud of this score because they put so much heart into every project and seeing their clients' delight with their work is the ultimate payoff.
The last and least quantifiable metric is “Ease to do business with.” Entering an agreement to work with an Atlassian Partner is a big commitment in terms of time. Are they responsive and U.S. based? Are they flexible and adaptable? And do you enjoy working with them? There has to be good chemistry to get the best result. In conclusion business is hard enough as it is sometimes. Don’t spend your valuable time working with difficult people. Control all the variables you can and make the most informed partner choice you can.