How to select a web integrator
Choosing the right partner will determine the success of your project.
Once you decide that your project requires a web integrator, you should then, of course, focus on finding the right web one.
As with system integration, the solution supplied by a web integrator is not a commodity. Rather, it involves service delivery, frequently on a long-term basis, which is closely connected with business processes and can impact your business or functioning for many years to come. Like the search for employees and partners, selecting a web integrator does not solely depend on your precisely defined requirements, but on mutual understanding too.
Professional requirements of a web integrator
The staff of a web integrator must have a wide range of knowledge and skills, ranging from a grasp of marketing and communications, web analysis, web and software architecture, communication interfaces, communication standards, and hardware configurations (sizing, monitoring and performance tuning of the operational environment) to an excellent knowledge of the principles and processes underpinning the project.
The web integrator must also have a sufficiently extensive partner network, which will allow it to carry out all activities essential for the project to operate succesfully.
You should ask about:
- Staffing. The experience of key staff, who will be involved in carrying out the project. They are pivotal in ensuring that it moves forward successfully. People with know- how are human; how good they are and their experience will determine the project implementation method.
- Methodology and procedures. The partners will apply these in project implementation.
- Tools used in the project. Tools jointly used by the staff and specified by the procedures form a single entity. The choice of the right Web Building Platform and Content Management System, whose quality standard and open nature make development easy, especially the further development of the solution. The quality of the outputs of course is influenced by a whole range of other factors, especially software tools (web analyses, operational environments, development platforms, etc.).
- References. Practical experience, best confirmed by a client, is a testament to the experience of the supplier. You should ask about case studies, if you can visit the client, and the possibility of a making a mystery call. You should differentiate between the relevance of the references: they should highlight in particular the quality of the potential project team.
- Partner stability. A project needing a web integrator is planned with a timescale of two to five years, with the potential for further growth and development. The partner must have a good track record in terms of history and stability, as well as being capable of developing as your needs develop. So it is better to be one step ahead.
- Security. It goes without saying that the partner should have liability insurance; the amount should be related to the size of the project.
- Operational guarantee. What accessibility does the partner offer and under what conditions? What are the partner service programmes and response times like? including conditions for carrying out new orders?
- Risk. In every project, identification and evaluation of risk are factors determining price and deadlines for submitting the work. You should work together with the partner to identify risk and make the most of the experiences it has gained from similar projects.
- Personal meeting. In view of the project length, it is important to meet the partner and members of its team personally.
The selection process most often takes the form of tenders, which varying in terms of formality, depending on your company rules. Tenders are based on the definition of the request for propsals, i.e. the client‘s solution requirements and related links, and, of course, the web integrator requirements.
In orders for a solution tailored to each client, it is appropriate in such cases to also internally formulate a rationale. This is a technique that helps reduce the number of non-essential orders, which often carry unnecessary costs and risks. A definition also allows an external consultant to also help the client. The consultant can also help provide a general evaluation of the requests.
Requests for proposals usually contains:
- basic information describing the client,
- the aims of the web solution,
- organisational structure and financial situation of the client,
- specification of functional and non-functional requirements,
- integration link specifications,
- operation requests,
- the required structure of the offer,
- tender requirements, which include
- overall qualities of a web integrator,
- references for previous projects carried out,
- the overall concept of the web solution,
- ICT (HW, LAN, internet, accessibility),
- Projection methodology and project management,
- services facilitiating project development and servicing,
- quality level of the sub-contractor,
- quality level of the project team,
- proposed timeline,
Despite all attempts at objectivity in decision-making, personal chemistry plays a huge role when choosing a web integrator. It is a partnership, which if successful, will continue on a long-term basis. It is therefore entirely logical that mutual agreement and understanding are very important for the outcome of the collaboration. And without an opportunity to meet the supplier personally and mutual discussion of the proposed solution, the choice becomes riskier . "You will not find a supplier using Excel."
The post-selection process
After you have selected a web integrator, you should make the most of its services. Concentrate on clearly defining goals and how they correspond to results. Follow advice, but be critical – ask what the web integrator’s decision is based upon, and how it has reached that decision. Discuss a solution to the problem, and reject irrelevant advice that has little connection with reality. Adopting this type of approach will also develop your knowledge.
Find out more about cooperation on an individual project basis in“10 tips for a successful web integration project“.