5 questions you need to ask your IT supplier

Statistics show that up to 14% of IT projects fail completely. Moreover, 31% do not meet the expected targets, as much as 43% exceed the initially planned budget, and 49% end up with a significant delay. It is not an optimistic outlook if you are planning a venture in this sector. However, you can succeed with your project. The key moment is deciding who to choose as a technology provider.

Why does outsourcing increase the chance of success?

IT outsourcing has been on the rising tide for years now. The basic advantages of the solution include the lack of the need to recruit specialists, build a development team and expand company structures.

Referring to the reports from which the above data come from, failures in IT projects are most often associated with inexperienced project management and lack of experience, which is especially the case with in-house projects by companies specializing in other industries.

By deciding to cooperate with an external supplier, you gain a collaborating team based on agile methodologies that bring results, and additionally a partner for whom working with IT projects is an everyday reality. This will only happen if you make the right choice of IT provider.

Poland is in the forefront of countries considered to be the best locations for IT outsourcing services – it ranks third in Europe (behind the Czech Republic and Hungary), and in the global perspective – as fifth, as shown by the data.

Regardless of whether you decide to implement your onshore (completed within your country) or nearshore (completed in nearby countries) project, you should know what questions to ask to select the perfect development team supplier for you.

1.  Do you have an end-to-end project in your portfolio?

At the beginning, answering this question will help you to exclude companies whose experience is too small and which so far have only cooperated with clients to a limited extent.

Getting to know the role of the technology supplier in projects so far makes it easier to assess the maturity of a given team and the ability to get involved in the project.

The answer should be supplemented with information whether a supplier has had experience with projects similar to yours. In the case of a softwarehouse, specialization is a good sign, because it indicates reliable selection of projects and deep knowledge of a specific issue or industry.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that not all technology suppliers have an industry specification. It can be a well-thought-out development strategy for a team that, dealing with projects from various industries, remains open to the client’s business issues and is not limited to well-known patterns.

2.  What was the most challenging project you completed as an IT supplier?

The best technology providers combine bold and brave moves with tactical wisdom based from many years of experience. It remains for your individual assessment whether it is more important for you to daringly undertake projects significantly exceeding the team’s competences in the initial phase, or whether you prefer a more conservative partner.

Answer to the question will allow you to assess how flexible the company you’re negotiating with is in terms of the working methods used, how it reacts to the need to increase resources (team, technology purchase, necessary training, certificates) and what values follow as a brand.

3.  What methodology do you use for project and customer relationship management?

Answer to this question will allow you to draw conclusions about how smooth the communication between the IT service provider and you will be, and how mature the company is in working on projects.

Suppliers who are ready to take responsibility for the product on themselves, demonstrate a proactive attitude and propose, for example, appointing a Product Owner on their side deserve special attention.

A full answer to this question should also include proposals of tools used to control the quality and efficiency of work.

4.  What was your biggest failure and how did you overcome it?

The ability to admit failures is characteristic of the greatest. Failures – smaller and bigger – are inherent in every IT project.

In Agile methodologies used for project management, the most important value is the concept of “inspection and adaptation”. In other words, making changes is an integral part of the project – they are intended to replace what is not working and learn lessons on the fly.

Therefore, it is not so much important whether the failure was sustained, but whether the supplier was able to translate it into success (e.g. in another iteration or project) and how it helped them in the sustainable development of the team.

5.  How do you understand my business model?

Close collaboration between the development and the business team is at the heart of Agile methodologies. When your IT team members understand the requirements of your customers / end-users and a detailed product concept, their effectiveness increases and you gain a trusted IT partner.

Lack of questions from the development team regarding specific project issues is worrying and may result in further communication problems and a negative impact on the project flow.

For this reason, you should look for a supplier who combines a proactive approach to the project with a deep understanding of the client’s business needs.