January 2016

Last week we shared Part II of our mini-series on A Next-Generation Approach to IT Project Services, where we provided some recommendations to help IT respond to their Project Management challenges and introduced the notion that IT organisations should select a specialist services partner to assist with these challenges.

In Part III we identify some of the key questions you should be asking your prospective project services partner in order to ensure you make the right choices for your organisation.

What is their core business focus and do their case studies truly reflect this?

Many organisations provide professional services and will be able to support elements of your requirements. However, many are conflicted in their focus, prioritising their professional services capabilities to their own portfolio. Where their wallet share is not core, then you may be disadvantaged either commercially or by the quality of capability on offer. It’s critical that you identify a partner whose speciality and focus is that of supplementing the capability and capacity of your team, rather than an agenda to do something different. This ensures you stay in control and get what you need.

What is the range of services available from the service provider?

It’s imperative that the prospective service partner offers a “full-service portfolio” of project services, so that both you and they can adapt the shape of their service to fit your needs, not only at the start, but more importantly throughout the lifetime of the service. Only this way can you overcome, for example, the constraints of dedicated resourcing, and continue to realise the efficiencies you need, whilst providing the responsiveness necessary to support inevitable peaks and troughs in project activity.

Things to look for here include:

How will they ensure the flexibility to adapt to your changing requirements?

It’s important for you to “get under the skin” of your service partner. In this respect, by understanding the way the service partner delivers their services, and adapts them both directly and indirectly to your benefit, will help you gain the confidence that they have the experience to sustain a quality, commercially advantageous service.

Things to look for here include:

Bottom line is, you need a partner that sees the bigger picture and has the model and customer culture to deliver it for you, driven by them, not you.

How do they ensure their alignment with your wider business and IT objectives?

Whilst it is a service partnership you inevitably want, you do need to feel in control of the IT Service you are responsible for, albeit without the management overhead that would be associated with running it yourself. So it’s not only a matter of receiving a great range of flexible professional services, it’s also how the partner manages it on your behalf. This includes the management of the individuals so you don’t have to worry about personnel issues. This extends to continuity of service, where the local knowledge gained through the service is protected by the service partner, so that new team members can be engaged quickly without burdening you with the usual on-boarding issues.

Further, does your service partner ensure they stay close to your future plans and proactively adapt the service to your needs? ...something that is often difficult with internal teams but is incredibly important in maintaining the value you need. Finally, how does your partner ensure you feel in control of the service, by the level of transparency in the use and performance of their services?

A true professional service partner will be working hard to impress you across all these points, at all times, and it’s important you know this will be the case.

What is their track record in delivering flexible professional services?

Prospective service partners can usually provide reference customers, but the real test is how many of their customers can they reference and across how many of the key questions are they referenceable? This level of diligence will give you the confidence that your selection of a project services partner will last the test of time in being an extension of your internal team that drives performance on your behalf, whilst ensuring you retain control of your IT Projects.

Next week in the final part of our mini-series, we look at the key components for a next-generation approach to IT Project Services and how to choose the correct services partner.

For more information on any of the points raised above and to find out more about next-generation IT Project Services, please take a look at our IT Project Augmentation area.

Don't have time to read the whole post? Download our Quick Reference Factsheet: Ensuring success through project control and assurance, containing 5 key questions to ask your prospective project services partners, to ensure you make the right choices for your organisation:


Links to the full mini-series:
Part I: Why nearly 70% of IT projects fail
Part II: How to get your failing IT projects back on track
Part IV: Key components of a next-gen IT services partner
A Next-Generation Approach to IT Project Services

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