The 4 must-have characteristics of your IT partner
Over the past few years, the area of Information Technology has developed substantially: it has evolved from being exclusively linked to programming to being strategically linked to innovation. It means that IT is now essential to develop innovative products and services and to perform the digital transformation that businesses need to cope with the changing market trends. Have all IT companies reached this level?
They actually haven’t. Some outdated software companies still work on projects with fixed scope and only deliver enterprise software and platforms resulting from comprehensive programming. They are IT companies with no product vision and no continuity. Each project is seen to be simple: it needs to meet the customer’s demand, no matter the user’s opinion, the market fit, or the volatility of the current context.
To keep you from partnering with one of these stuck-in-time partners, in this article we list the four must-have characteristics of your IT partner. That way, you can count on the technological assistance you need to meet the challenges of the 2020s.
1. Digital Product View
Your IT partner needs to be more than just a programming company. It needs to have a vision (view) of the digital product which means to have expertise in Design and Experimentation.
The Design process allows us to think about the product from the user’s perspective. Suppose you develop an app, software enterprise, or platform that people don’t need, don’t understand, or can’t use. The thinking approach used by designers and their toolkit makes us look for a deeper and more realistic understanding of the problem we want to solve, before starting to develop the solution.
The gain resulting from this practice is to be able to build higher quality products that can provide optimal user interactions, high user acceptance, and effectively meet user needs and expectations. In other words: when we say Design, we mean designing the functional aspect of the product so that it works as expected.
But Design alone is not enough. Even thinking about the digital product from the user’s perspective, we can only be sure that we are on the right track through Experimentation. No matter how many surveys and interviews are conducted, it is only useful information to guide us. To define the product is to state a proposition, a solution hypothesis.
In order to discover and learn whether the user experience and the proposed business model work effectively, it is necessary to test it as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is what the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is for. The famous product-solution-fit and product-market fit can only be achieved through experimentation and adaptation.
Of course, it is possible to develop software without using the services of Design and Experimentation. However, the risk of developing a useless product is high and may incur the greatest danger of all: a well-developed product that, in fact, should never have been made.
2. Dedicated Multidisciplinary Team
When looking for an IT partner, one of the most important questions you should ask is: Will I be served by a multidisciplinary dedicated team, or served on demand?
You may have heard that some IT companies treat their clients with no exclusivity. It is a work model in which your demand is served simultaneously with others’ by different professionals according to their availability. The results are over-due (late) deliveries, rework and little (if any) connection with your business.
A focused and dedicated multidisciplinary team ensures the harmony and evolution of the work. Software development is a process of knowledge sharing: it grows as the team learns more about the business and the client learns more about the product development. Moreover, this closely established relationship between them results in more approachable professionals and assigns certainty to the work.
“In our experience, we have run into problems that our clients face with partners who are not fully dedicated. There were cases where every week a new professional, unaware of what had already been developed, was assigned to attend the meeting because he had a free spot in his schedule. It is an evidence that the client is seen as just another one“, says Karina Hartmann, SoftDesign Product Manager.
3. Experience in Digital Projects
It may sound like grandpa talk, but it is the absolute truth. The IT partner must have experience in digital projects, which means knowing different technologies and the real advantages and disadvantages of applying their solutions in different usage scenarios.
Only with this background is it possible to indicate the most appropriate technology for each product, according to its specific demand. For example, a partner who is only familiar with Java will certainly recommend it to your project. In fact, this choice should be made more consciously, considering the business adequacy (fit) – responding to needs such as security, scalability, efficiency, and also business timing (MVP, Scale-Up, etc.).
In addition, experience in digital projects provides a wider repertoire of challenges and a significant understanding of technological recombination. Today, there are ready-made solutions that can be integrated, so there is no need to build everything from scratch. For example, your product needs a payment method: we can consider using existing software, and recombine this technology with what we have in mind for your product. This way we save money and the product can be launched quickly, which avoids missing time to market.
4. Innovation Facilitator
Last but not least, the IT partner must act as a facilitator of the innovation process within the organization. Speaking with companies from different markets, corporate departmentalization was reported as one of the most common pains (sources of stress). The larger the company, the more difficult communication becomes and, consequently, the harder it is to achieve digital innovation. Some department demands may not be taken as priorities by the IT team, and more, they may be seen as ‘task workers’ who provide support only on one-off issues.
The IT partner should bring in methods that help develop communication in the organization, as it is often the best way to facilitate innovation. There are ideas circulating in every organization; bringing them together to discover and understand the pains (sources of stress) is essential to facilitate the process of connecting and creating new solutions.
The IT partner must also continue to look outward and be responsible for providing the organization with new insights, inspiration and examples to bring in some fresh air to revitalize its structure. “Right now, for example, we are working with a financial client on a project that brings together people from Management, Innovation and Social Care, and from its many agencies across the country. After desk research (documentation search), we made a presentation of the existing initiatives related to the problem they intend to solve, asking the group to think about new digital products for their business,” says Karina.
Trust your IT partner
Digital product vision, dedicated multidisciplinary team, digital project experience, and innovation facilitator. These are the four must-have characteristics of your IT partner to have your trust and run your projects.
At SoftDesign, these skills are combined in the Product Conception. We work with the Design Thinking and Lean Startup approach that allows us to think globally about the digital solution, considering users, functions, market and financial viability. Similarly, these skills are combined in Software Development, with Discovery Cycles, short deliveries and user experience testing.
Would you like to understand it better? Contact us and we will get back to you as soon as possible!
Ideas or feedback? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.