At Western Computer, we pride ourselves on building long-term and successful relationships with our customers. However, we also recognize that sometimes it’s just time to move on. If you are contemplating switching software partners, check out my previous blog, 5 Common Reasons for Changing Software Partners, for some ideas to resolve issues before making a difficult change. If you have already made the decision to switch partners, keep reading for my thoughts on things to consider for a smooth transition.
When and how should I tell my current partner about the change?
You should notify your partner as soon as possible that you are interviewing other potential partners and why. If appropriate, you may want to give them the opportunity to be considered for future work. This is being both diligent and thoughtful. You may be surprised (happily or not) with your current partner’s reaction and that could either validate or change your decision.
It’s understandable you may be reluctant to deliver this news and fear a negative impact on current projects. However, in my experience, being forthright is the only way to achieve good business results. When I hear a customer say: “I don’t want my current partner to know I am looking,” I take that as a warning sign. The bottom line is both parties must own the issues so you can deliver—and receive—constructive feedback that will only help ensure positive relationships in the future.
What items should be on my partner shopping list?
In addition to your specific business and technology requirements, there are a few general criteria that I like to use.
- Industry Participation: Make sure your chosen partner is active in your industry so you can keep up to date with industry trends and technologies. Are they active in the user group community? Do they hold industry certifications? For example, Western Computer is very active in the Dynamics User Group community which provides centralized resources to help solve challenges and establish personal connections. We are big supporters of facilitating users talking to other users.
- Account Management: Look for a partner who will offer a full-service team for regular checkpoints at multiple levels, including senior management. A healthy business relationship includes lots of communication and it’s best to clearly identify the lines of communication in advance to ensure accountability.
- Ability to work through problems: Problems can and will arise. Systems and people are not perfect. The important thing is how your partner works through problems. Do they have a structured process for addressing support issues, including a service level agreement that spells out response time commitments? Do they have change management methodologies in place? If not, they might not be the best fit.
- Feedback: Western Computer makes great use of surveys and other feedback tools to ask our customers how we are doing. We want to know what is working and what needs improvement. Ask your potential partner for their processes for customer feedback and beware if there are none.
Partner changes happen. For many, there are just too many obstacles for too long and a fresh perspective is needed. We welcome the opportunity to work with you to be that new perspective and to ensure you get what you need and expect. Feel free to reach out to me personally for more information or to share your thoughts about this sensitive, but important, topic.
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