Only Hire Contractors with the Relevant Expertise

Paul Mah

Last week, I wrote about a recent study which showed IT failing in one of four SMBs. As promised, I will be sharing on some pitfalls when it comes to managing IT that you can watch out for. Hopefully, this will help you avoid missteps that can result in missed opportunities or drain badly needed finances.


While outsourcing is no longer as popular as it was a year back, the fact is that getting vendors to take on projects that are beyond the scope of the company's internal IT capabilities makes perfect sense. Contractors can present a fresh perspective to solving your problems and bring to the table more resources and experience than your SMB might be able to muster on its own.


Overpromising by contractors


The unfortunate fact is this: Many contractors are willing to agree to anything and everything, simply to get you to sign on the dotted line. And truth to be told, they might not even be lying to you here, and actually believe that they can deliver what they are promising. Problem is, they have never worked on a similar project, or maybe not on the scale that you are asking for.


When such a mismatch occurs, you can expect them to extrapolate the project cost and duration based on their (limited) experiences to date. And this might well prove to be completely wrong -- and fatal -- to the implementation of your project.


While not an exact comparison, I tend to think of it this way: Do you really want to go under the knife with a surgeon who is performing a particular operation for the very first time? Or would you rather pay more for someone who has the experience?


Obviously, there might be compelling reasons to use a particular contractor or vendor. Perhaps they sold you the accounting software that the new ERP system is to work with. In such a situation, it makes more sense to give them a slice of the action -- the accounts-ERP integration in this case -- rather than the entire ERP project. If they are not the best candidate in terms of experience or expertise, why pay them to gain it?


Look beyond the sales pitch


The simplest way to expose technically incompetent contractors is to get the input of an experienced project manager or programmer (If it's a programming project) to scrutinize the project proposal. This might entail hiring an independent consultant, or if funds are tight, getting a couple of technically competent employees who have done similar work to give their honest appraisal.


What you need to do is essentially look beyond the sales pitch and ROI projections into the actual technical details. And should your consultant or staffer sound an alarm, pay very close attention to what they have to say. While not foolproof, this should at least eliminate most false starts.


In my next blog, I'll talk more on how to ensure that projects, once started, stay on course.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 4, 2009 5:47 AM Sonal Maheshwari Sonal Maheshwari  says:

I feel its not always easy for a business to find a credentialed service provider. The most difficult part is to trust some one who is as new to you as any stranger. With this issue in mind I will introduce the concept of sourcing partner

What is the concept of sourcing partner?

A sourcing partner just confirms requirements from you and keeps you updated on the progress and the features along with time-lines and costs. All the other overheads are his responsibility, from RFP creation to negotiation, contracts and even allocating a project manager to take care of it. It provides all end to end services to the clients.

These type of firms known as risk free sourcing partners provide a huge advantage to small and medium businesses looking to outsource their projects. There is not much overhead for an organization taking help of sourcing partners. They themselves locate best service provider from their huge network of pre-credentialed service providers

hopefully it is something that can be of utmost importance for small business wary of service providers.

Sonal Maheshwari

USourceIT your single source for all IT needs


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