Things to Consider in a Commercial Agreement With a Technology Partner
Important things you may not have thought of
How well do they know you?
Simple but often missed. Have a clear and frank conversation with any potential partner to give you an idea of how much knowledge they have about the transformation and training industry. Never assume your potential tech partner knows about the transformation and training world. Don’t be afraid to grill them. You’re looking for a tech team with a good grounding in the industry, specific insight into the day-to-day workings of your sector and a technological solution which will make your professional life easier. A lack of knowledge could result in you having to do some heavy carrying and, as things evolve, the tool or solution may struggle to keep up with your progress.
Are they stable?
The growth of B2B tools and technologies is exciting but along with success comes failure and there have a been plenty of casualties. Ensure your next tech partner is not here today and gone tomorrow. Discuss funding, investment, equity and security and calculate any long-term risk. You are investing significant resource so perform the same due diligence you would with any other investment.
What are their core values?
Nowadays, companies have a strong moral and ethical code and many consumers expect commerce to use their position and help make the world a better place. You and your tech partner don’t need change the world but it would be good if you had some shared beliefs as opposed to contradictory ones.
Who owns the data?
The dynamic between technology and business produces data. It’s vitally important all parties are fully aware of and agree with, the arrangements around who owns the data. Both now and in the future, your data is a valuable commodity and you must ask questions about ownership of data before entering any agreement.
How safe is the data?
We live in a SaaS society and it feels like our entire lives are moving into the cloud. Cloud-based systems make life more manageable. In technology, it means we don't have to worry about scaling, or about the barriers of hardware infrastructure. However, working with a new technology partner does mean you’ll be handing over your trust. Are security credentials clear? Do they penetration test? Do they employ redundant data centres? How often is the data backed up? Your data is a commercial asset so ensuring its long-term security is important.
Talk to some of their existing clients
It’s all well and good reading about happy clients of any potential supplier in the form of case studies, testimonials or quotes. But don’t be afraid to ask for more info. Take the opportunity to liaise with existing clients who are on the same journey as you, albeit a little further down the track.
What will the team look like?
An often unasked question is who will be your point of contact when you need assistance, advice, a decision or to escalate an issue. Personal connections forged early in a project help to generate momentum. It’s worthwhile mapping out the individual roles, team structure and links on both sides
Can you scale up?
Can your partner scale with you. Technology is changing exponentially so, although your partner may show commitment up front, you’ll want to feel confident they can keep up with you in the long term. Get longevity built in.
What if things don't work out?
It’s one thing using a free, off-the-shelf software trial but it’s nigh-on impossible to trial enterprise-grade software given all the variables and required customisation. Added to which, onboarding plays a big part of a project and creates a barrier to trial schemes. It’s a rare occurrence but if a client and tech partner relationship goes down the drain and you have to pull out, how will you retrieve your data?
Keep asking the questions
All being well, you will gain great value from your next technology partner and form long-term relationships. Keep on asking the questions.