Choosing a Digital Transformation Partner? 5 Questions to Ask
How can enterprises choose the best digital transformation partner for their business? Ask these 5 questions to find the best DXP partner.
There are dozens of digital experience platforms out there — and plenty of good ones. According to the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms (DXP), which recognizes 14 leading DXP solutions, there are four different solutions in the Leader Quadrant alone, and four more listed as Challengers.
Deciding on the DXP to power your digital transformation is painstaking enough. Then comes the next step: figuring out how to implement it.
Generally, this is more a question of “who” rather than “how.” It’s simply not practical for any organization, no matter their size, to build and maintain a team of in-house experts that’s fully trained and certified on the DXP of their choice.
Theoretically, this was possible back in the days when a fairly straightforward content management system (CMS) was sufficient for maintaining an enterprise website, or group of websites, and a few integrations. Even then, however, companies often ended up lagging behind those of their competitors who weren’t burdened by technical bloat, employee churn, and the other realities of having an internal team.
In today’s high-paced business landscape, where constant change is the only constant, an internal team often struggles to keep pace with the demands of their marketing team. A CMS doesn’t cut it, either. Businesses who plan to succeed require a DXP that fully integrates all of their technologies in a single, yet sophisticated ecosystem that allows them to deliver personalized experiences — at scale — across multiple channels, locations, and languages.
Once your digital transformation is underway, there’s no time to lose. You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines just because you don’t have the technical expertise in-house.
That’s why today’s thought leaders make the smart decision to bring in an expert solutions vendor to implement their digital transformation platform, be it Sitecore, Optimizely, Adobe, or one of the other market-leading solutions. Still, it pays to be careful. Finding a partner who can truly deliver while protecting your company’s interests can be tricky.
To find a DXP expert, the independent research and analysis firm Clutch is a good place to start. You’ll also want to consider the following five key things as you evaluate potential digital transformation partners.
1. Do they specialize in your DXP, or do they just dabble?
By their nature, digital transformation platforms are complex. That’s what makes them so powerful. Inexperienced developers can’t just take a few hours of coding lessons and be caught up to speed.
As an example, an organization could be hosting hundreds of websites on one implementation, translated in 10+ different languages, representing tens of thousands of products, with numerous contributors publishing. There are myriad considerations in terms of architecture, orchestration, scalability, maintainability and implementation. You need a partner that’s “been there, done that” a hundred times — especially if you want to win more projects from your client.
Look at it this way: You wouldn’t let a general practitioner perform heart surgery on you. You should only consider partnering with firms that specialize in your DXP and have completed a substantial number of successful implementations.
Let’s say you’ve decided on Sitecore. You’ll start your search for a DXP vendor on Clutch.co, where you can find the top-reviewed Sitecore firms (Clutch.co is an excellent resource for finding the best vendors for any DXP, including Optimizely, Kentico, Adobe, and others.)
As you compare these firms, look closely at:
The Leaders Matrix — Focus on firms in the Proven or Market Leaders quadrants. Your project should not be anybody’s test case.
Reviews, both quantity and quality — You want good reviews, and plenty of them.
Service focus — Be wary of firms that claim to specialize in any and everything. As the saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” You’ll get the best results from a firm that focuses on a handful of core competencies, and has the rave reviews to back it up.
Frameworks & CMS — Is your DXP featured prominently on their website, or has the salesperson just claimed they have experience? You want a team that lives and breathes your DXP of choice.
An important note here: Size doesn’t matter. It’s not about throwing bodies at the problem. It’s about having the right team of experts who are hyper-engaged in ensuring your success.
2. Are they collaborative, flexible, and eager to please?
This is where reviews come into play. A good review will be more than just “These guys are great.” If a client really valued its relationship with their digital transformation partner, their review will speak as much to the working experience as the end result.
You’re looking for compatibility and alignment — a partner who shares the same values as your organization. Dig deep into the reviews, combing for words like “collaborative,” “team work,” “customer service,” “flexibility,” “commitment” and “follow-through.”
If your partner isn’t aligned with your values, the deliverable will suffer.
3. Do they play well with others?
A project’s success hinges not only on a vendor’s compatibility with your organization, but their compatibility with the other vendors you’re working with. You want a partner who is laser-focused on executing the implementation you hired them to deliver, not on padding their SOW by stealing business away from your other vendors.
It’s not uncommon to encounter web development firms who also have a design and strategy practice. Often, it’s a big part of their top line revenue. If a prospective vendor has additional services listed on their website — particularly if you already have a vendor you like working with — proceed with caution. The last thing you need is a partner who might sabotage parts of your project or your vendor relationships, in the hopes of stealing future work away.
A digital transformation partner who has your best interests in mind will be happy to work closely with your other vendors. They’ll go out of their way to integrate their workflows with your design partner, so they can ensure deliverables efficiently and save you the hassle of playing project manager. To find this type of partner, look for reviews from other agencies they’ve worked with, or ask to see case studies of their successful collaborations.
4. Do they sweat the small stuff?
If you’re in the midst of a digital transformation, you’ve probably spent hours reviewing new logos and signing off on wireframes. You’ve put a lot of work into approving a new look and feel for your organization. After all that work, if something looks “off,” it can be incredibly aggravating.
Still, you don’t want to have to micromanage developers to make sure their work is acceptable.
An expert digital transformation partner can make the ultimate product look exactly like your design and will test the hell out of it to ensure the site looks and performs exactly as expected. They’ll also be able to counsel your design partner if something in their design could be problematic in implementation, so you can course-correct before issues arise.
Check reviews and recommendations carefully. Look for mentions of “attention to detail” or “pixel perfect.” Reviews from creative leadership are particularly relevant here.
It’s also a good idea to request an example of an initial design comp with a link to the final website. Compare the comp with the final to see just how “pixel perfect” this prospective partner can be.
5. Are they just a code factory or true craftspeople?
With the large enterprise websites that are typical of DXP projects, everything you build has to scale and integrate with what was built before and what will come after. The developer must consider the context, because a new website leverages and affects everything else.
Some companies that offer DXP implementation services slap together poorly coordinated teams of contractors distributed around the globe to churn out the code required for your specific project as fast and as cheaply as possible. These types of shops don’t care about the big picture, the long-term sustainability of the code, or the client relationship.
You’ll get better results from a team of true DXP experts who will take the time to understand the context, and architect a solution based on the best practices for your chosen tech stack. If you want a website that seamlessly scales, and will be performant now and into the future, you can’t take an assembly-line approach — DXP solutions are just too complex.
You need a closely knit team that collaborates together every day, knows how to hash things out, and has produced outstanding results together for a long time.
DXP Partner Interview Checklist for Businesses
To suss out the true nature of any potential DXP implementation partner, ask the following questions:
How many years of experience do you have in your DXP solution?
How much of your time is spent doing DXP work?
Will the team members working on my project include architects, developers, and support engineers certified in our DXP solution?
What type of quality control processes do you follow?
What types of documentation will be created to ensure the quality of your work?
How do you collaborate with external teams?
What other services do you offer beyond implementation? Do you offer training, ongoing support, UX design, or SEO?
Do you have an example you can share with me of an initial design comp and the final website?
Where can I find reviews of your firm?
Can you share case studies from other businesses similar to mine that you’ve worked with?
Can you provide a reference from another business in my industry?
Try to understand as much as possible about how the prospective partner will approach your project and whether they take pride in their work and building long-term relationships. If you aren’t confident about their approach and the entire team you’ll be working with, look for another vendor.
Let’s discuss your digital transformation
Finding a qualified and relationship-driven DXP partner can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to drive you off the rails. Oshyn is a Sitecore, Optimizely and Adobe Solution Partner.
Click here to schedule a time to talk.