How to find a long-term delivery partner

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Published
April 30, 2021
Category

Partners

Is a long-term delivery partner the right option for you? How do you choose from the many providers out there? This post covers what a long-term delivery partner can offer you, and how to choose one that’s right for you.

What is a long-term delivery partner?

Every great digital product usually starts with an idea — a new way to overcome a challenge, attend to a common pain point or fill a gap in the market.

How do you take your great idea from conception to creation and, finally, delivery to your clients and end users? You rely on a mix of discovery, research, design, development, product ownership, operational support and thorough testing. 

It’s understandable that you may not have all these resources in-house. This is why many businesses choose to outsource to a third-party delivery partner

Once your chosen associate has proven their value through an initial project, you may decide to work with them on an ongoing basis. They’ll become a core part of your team and support you to meet your long-term objectives.

At Digital Detox, we’re proud to be the long-term delivery partner of choice for many of our clients. Here we’ll share their insight into how and why they made this decision.

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Trust

Trust is the most important aspect of any business relationship. When choosing an ally, you need to be able to trust them entirely and without hesitation.

Trust means:

  • They always do what’s best for you, without exception

  • Ethical practices and a solid moral code

  • A mutually respectful relationship

  • Showing, rather than telling

  • Proven track record of success

  • Transparency in pricing, timescales and expectations

When you’re looking for a delivery partner, take note of how they set your expectations. A provider that offers you the world may sound good on paper, but can they deliver? Checking that their timescales are realistic and questioning why they think it’s realistic is a reliable way of evaluating their offer.

Another important detail to ascertain at the meeting stage is whether or not their pricing incorporates contingencies for changing requirements and technology constraints.

Remember that in these situations, it’s always best to trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is!

Realistic expectations

We’ve touched on this above, but it’s worth elaborating on a little. Digital experiences come to life when teams have the experience, expertise and attitude needed to understand complex requirements and meet expectations.

At the very least, your delivery partner needs to deliver on their baseline promises, so it’s important that they set realistic expectations upfront. However, an ideal long-term associate will exceed your expectations, beat their deadlines and achieve more than you thought possible. 

Stakeholder buy-in

When you choose a new third-party delivery partner, you’ll also need to gain buy-in from your own business. For example, if the new company works in an agile way, you’ll need to set internal stakeholders’ expectations. There are a number of processes that your internal team needs to be aware of to ensure a smooth-running collaboration, including:

  • Small increments of working functionality are showcased via regular demos 

  • Everyone involved needs to be aware of and understand the impact of scope creep

  • Users’ needs can change, so sometimes it’s necessary to pivot

  • There’s no place for hierarchy and unnecessary bureaucracy in an agile team

  • Senior stakeholders should set the objectives, not the roadmap

“From my experience, in order for the client/provider relationship to be effective, the client’s entire organization needs to be aligned to the expectations and process set out by their chosen delivery partner. This avoids contention at various levels and helps stakeholders understand the rationale behind any decisions that are made along the way.”

– Sunil Misra, Client Partner at Digital Detox

Agile basics 

If your chosen third-party partner is an agile organization, your stakeholders may need to learn new terminology, like MVP (minimum viable product), backlog, scrum and sprints. It’s worth introducing this terminology as you set their expectations, so they understand how and why it’s used.

For example, if you explain why an MVP is so valuable, your stakeholders can adjust their expectations to expect a low-fidelity first version at launch, with the understanding that you’ll add the “bells and whistles” once the product is being actively used/tested in the market. 

Stakeholders may also need to understand the importance of solid planning upfront. For example, at Digital Detox, we usually undertake a discovery session to kick off a new project before any design or development takes place. This time needs to be factored into stakeholders’ expectations.

People-focused

Yes, you may be building a new app or re-platforming your website, but who is it for? A solid delivery partner will focus on people, not products. They’ll care about feelings, not just features. If you can create products and experiences that people love, your customers will choose you over the competitors. 

Let’s say you approach your shortlist of companies with an idea for a new app. If they immediately launch into a daydream solely about whizzy features and cool technology, this should be a big red flag. Instead, what you’re looking for is a provider who immediately asks about your audience.

  • What are their current challenges and pain points? 

  • How would an app solve these? 

  • What exists in the market already?

  • How can your app make people’s lives easier? 

You can work out the features later. If the overall proposition doesn’t meet a bigger need, the features are of little use to anyone.

Keep calm and carry on coding

When a third-party provider is trying to “sell themselves” to you, they’re going to do their best to look good. Positivity, an upbeat attitude and celebration of success are all fantastic traits. But what happens if things go wrong?

Discuss how they’d cope in a crisis, mitigate risk and handle various stressful scenarios. It’s particularly useful to ask how they’ve managed projects when things haven’t gone to plan, so you can get a sense of their approach.

We’d all love to imagine that every project will go smoothly, but anyone in the tech world knows that this isn’t always possible. So it’s better to work with people who prepare for any eventuality.

Do you like them?

Who, specifically, will you be working with if you go ahead with your chosen provider? Have you only dealt with one account manager or sales person thus far? Or have you met the wider team you’d be working with on a daily basis?

In an agile delivery team, every individual is seen as equal and valuable. So you may deal primarily with your client services partner, but there’s a good chance you’ll also chat with the project manager, designer, developers and product owner regularly. 

Do you like them? Are they a diverse, positive and close-knit team? Do they enjoy what they do? 

There’s a myriad of studies that shows happy teams perform better, so it’s key that you can imagine yourself working harmoniously with the entire team.

Price and value

The old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies when planning for this business decision.

At Digital Detox, we believe in offering value for money. We’re always upfront about exactly what you get in return for your investment. If we think there’s a better, more efficient or more affordable way to do things, we’ll suggest it.

We also believe in using prototypes to prove concepts before we build them. The real development only begins once we’re 100% sure it’s going to work. This can save a huge amount of money in the long term and mitigates risk too.

Are your values aligned?

This doesn’t have to mean they’re exactly like you — in fact, they may not even be familiar with your industry, clients or subject matter. What matters is that they share your moral code. If you believe in an ethical approach, minimising your impact on the environment and treating people fairly and with respect, make sure your chosen partner shares these values.

Notice how the team interacts and how senior leaders treat their employees. If you’re a carbon-conscious business, ask for proof of how the delivery team will work as energy efficiently as possible to minimize their digital carbon footprint. Check out their work in the community or any charities they support.

About Digital Detox

We are a humanity-led digital product agency, specializing in design, full-stack development, startup tech partnerships and digital transformation. We have a simple but effective ethos when it comes to our approach; we always do what’s best for our clients.

Sometimes this means outsourcing to experts who have more experience than we do in certain areas. That’s why we’re partners with Contentful as they have a proven content platform under their belt, and we want to harness the power and potential of their service to deliver excellence to our clients.

Partnering with Contentful means we can focus on the in-house expertise we’re trusted to deliver based on our extensive experience in full-stack development. At the same time, we can offer a new service to our clients that will offer high impact, in a low-risk way.

If you found the above useful, or you need any more information on long term delivery partners, get in touch to find out how we can help you achieve your ambitions.

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