Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 62 - Why you need the right technology partner

With special guest Hector Hickmott, Sales Director at HSO

This episode covers:

✓ How the right partner can help you succeed in your projects

✓ Reduce risk, time and cost

✓ Why looking for a technology partner is not quite the right thinking

Transcription

Welcome to episode 62 of the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m your host Michael Lonnon, and in this episode, I wanted to answer a simple question – why is project success bound by finding the right partner to support you?

To answer that I grabbed industry expert, and long-time HSO Sales Director, Hector Hickmott.

We spent 10 minutes chatting about this and came to a simple conclusion.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and have a listen to discover what it is.

Michael Lonnon

The reason I wanted to chat was to help others understand why having the right partner is important, the red flags to look out for when perhaps the chosen partner isn’t doing quite what they need to be doing and why having the right partner is the conduit to success. I’ll start off with this:  why does an organisation going through a technology project need the right partner? Why is it important?

Hector Hickmott

I think the first point is, if you think of it as a technology project, then you probably won’t have the right partner. Any of these projects have to be about business change, and they have to be about driving business value and transformation. Therefore, to enable you to get that you need people who understand your market, understand your operations.

Michael Lonnon

Are all partners, not the same? When you think about it from a Microsoft environment, each bring in lots of expertise and different partners can bring something different to the table, but are they generally overall not just the same?

Hector Hickmott

I think there’s a lot of crossover, but on the whole, it depends on what you’re looking for. Most of the people we see, they’re looking to change their business, they’re looking to set their business up for the future or scale their business. In order to do that, yes, you can have teams that operate very cheaply, it’s all offshore, and actually, the tech will probably get set up, okay, but fundamentally, you’ll get to the end, and no one, uses it, everyone would just use the same spreadsheets, the same things they’ve always done, what you need and what I would suggest you need in a partner, is someone that has that breadth of skills and can use local resources to work with individuals to enable your user community to change their habits. And also a breadth of skills across the technology.

Michael Lonnon

What makes a good partner? What are the things you should be looking for in a good partner, or good business partner, as opposed to good technology partner based on what you’ve said?

Hector Hickmott

I think you’ve got to recognise it’s a people-based thing. The tech is actually, in the grand scheme of things, relatively straightforward. So, I think culture, cultural fit is a key thing. If you’re quite entrepreneurial, and you’re dealing with someone quite corporate, there’s always a clash, and a frustration. I think, if you can align culturally, if you’ve got someone who’s taking that sort of long-term view that understands where you’re trying to get to and is in it with you for the long term, equally someone who’s happy to have the difficult conversations, I think sometimes you need to have those conversations early and it’s about setting the whole programme up for success. I would always advise people that the partner has done it, that’s what they do, that’s what they do for a living, and therefore, you should work with them to understand, and learn from their experiences.

Michael Lonnon

Because projects don’t go smoothly all of the time do, they?

Hector Hickmott

Projects are difficult. I know I keep saying it, but its people based. You need stability of the team, you need a team with a good breadth of business skills, technical skills, and mix of onshore/offshore, you need a team that’s been trained and current with the tech, but also, understands how to run a workshop, for example, enable your warehouse staff to agree with the process that’s been suggested and ideally, you know, come away with it with it being their idea and excited and, and selling, that new vision to their to their colleagues.

Michael Lonnon

So, the right partner is adding value, not just from a technical point of view, but from a cultural business, a change management, a board level perspective, helping the organisation adopt the technology to deliver on the business goals. That’s what a good partner looks like?

Hector Hickmott

Completely. I think if you just look forward, you know, 10 years or so, or maybe shorter than that, who knows the speed tech moves, you might find the actual configuration is far more commoditised, may also be automated, there’ll be wizards that do it. But that’s only a part of what a good partner should be doing for you. A good partner should be translating this is how tech can enable you to do more with your business, whether that’s doing things more efficiently, or whether that’s innovating your customer experience, or whether that’s enabling you to offer new services to your customers. It’s all about how you leverage the technology that’s available to give yourself that competitive edge.

Michael Lonnon

One of the things I was going to ask you is why can’t you just do it yourself as an organisation? Why should you even bother going down the road of a partner? There was something you mentioned there about the speed of change of technology makes it almost essential or critical to have that partner with you because they’re keeping pace with the change of technologies, particularly in Microsoft’s world.

Hector Hickmott

I see it a fair bit where people try and do it themselves and I think invariably you find you get consultants who go freelance then they get jobs with the client, every time I see that, if they’ve been out of the market, and been on a big contract for more than a year or two, quite often you’re listening to their suggestions and their idea of best practice, and actually the tech has moved on and they’re missing out on all that ongoing training you need. But like I say, it’s also about just bringing that thought leadership, that advice in terms of how others have tackled similar problems and if you’re doing it all yourself, you lack that. There’s also a practical challenge that right now, those people are in huge demand and the last thing you want to do is get three quarters of the way through your programme and find out they’ve been offered an extra £100 a day by a competitor, and then you’ve lost all that knowledge and those skills from your business.

Michael Lonnon

Sometimes the sales process works well, and the ideas are well received, and you end up bringing in a partner to deliver on a particular project. But over time, you start to think well, actually, they’re not doing quite what we need. What are the alerts or the red flags, when you might need to think about whether you’ve actually got the right partner in?

Hector Hickmott

That’s a good question. I think if there’s lots of chopping and changing, I think right now the red flag is the partner has a short term mindset so they’ll just wanted to win the deal, maybe do that first bit of a project, but then, that’s great when you’re flavour of the month, but once you’ve been sold, as it were, and there’s another prospect around the corner, and you suddenly find all those people you’ve been working with disappear on to the next project. So, I think a red flag is lots of chopping and changing. We see all the time, where we’ve rescued projects, or we take things on, and you also see, where stuff has been developed or built, because the partner is too narrow or they’re too small, or they don’t have those breadth skills, but stuffs being built when actually, with a bit of thought, you could have delivered the same process using standard software. So, I think there’s no one red flag, I think there’s lots of things. I think having that long term mindset and that breadth of skills, you need to get that right in the first place. I mean, quite often we see ones where there’ll be someone in the partner community who is very cheap with low amounts of days, and I think that’s just a short-term win. In the end, success takes what it takes.

Summary

Hector suggests that if you’re looking for a technology partner then you’re already starting off on the wrong foot.

When it comes to choosing the right partner – and if you want your project to succeed – then you need a business partner.

One with technical expertise but also with the business nous to ensure your solution is embedded and adopted culturally in your organisation, and therefore able to deliver its value.

Because in the end, technology is only of value if it’s being used as you envisioned. Delivering process improvements, providing a competitive edge, introducing efficiency, and so on.

Thanks for listening, until next time, take care of yourselves.

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