IT service provider – what experience?
Each sector has a set of typical conditions that are absent from other branches of business. The collaboration of the IT service provider with customers from the same sector may increase the efficiency of the final solution and make it better meet the company’s business requirements. However, the provider’s experience and its employees’ experience in the sector are often two different things. For instance, if a system for a financial sector business is to be implemented, the ideal implementation team will consist of consultants who have some experience of working in finance, since they will present a unique feel and skills.
However, if not all of the consultants have such experience, one should not rule them out. They are often specialists who can use analogous experiences from other sectors, e.g. a similar optimization process will be necessary for cutting the largest number of pieces from fabrics (for clothes), from steel (for cars) and from wood (for furniture).
When choosing a IT service provider, the customer should ask many questions. The most important one related to the competences of the consultants to be assigned to the project. Have there been similar projects in the past? If the provider has not implemented similar projects in the past, one should ask if there is a knowledge transfer methodology for internal training. One should not hesitate to ask about meeting the team, since it is best to know people before starting work with them, – says Michał Guzek from Hicron. – The attendance of consultants/experts is a good sign. They do not take active part in the project, but they provide their extensive knowledge and experience during the implementation, – he adds.
An IT partner should also be also to present a detailed case study of at least one software implementation for the offered solution along with a detailed description of the entire project. References from customers are valuable, since they confirm competence within the given areas.
But also what technical support is offered?
To receive the best IT support after the implementation, one should analyse the provider’s tender in this respect. Based on the terms and conditions of the SLA (Service Level Agreement), one can define the response time, the form of support, and the method for reporting and removing problems.
It is therefore worthwhile looking closer at the provider’s technical support structure. A separate support department provides the customer with ongoing access to a team of qualified consultants, including (if possible) an account manager assigned directly to the project and assisting in the entire process of problem reporting and solving. Some providers invite potential customers for a reference visit where they can see the team at work.
A support consultant is required to have a perfect knowledge of the system along with its functions and modules as well as the configuration implemented for the given customer. However, that is not all. Service requests are strictly related to business processes in the company; if they do not know the specific solutions, the support department would need a long time to solve the problem and sometimes it would even be impossible, – says Agnieszka Werbińska, Application Services Manager at Hicron. – The consultants must also know foreign languages to an extent that enables fluent communication with customers from other countries, – adds A. Werbińska.
When changing IT partner, one should consider if the new company offers a methodology for taking over the technical support from the previous provider. It is also necessary to test the service request application: its interface, functions and capabilities for integration with existing solutions.