I’ve spent the last few months working on a massive web project that has required the involvement of a number of external suppliers. The experience has certainly confirmed the importance of selecting people or companies that will support your business goals and deliver outstanding work.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I came on board in the middle of a task that had blown out in budget, time and was starting to have a detrimental effect on the business. I quickly realized the people who had initially been chosen to complete the work just weren’t the right fit for the project at hand. A combination of lack of knowledge and support, bad attitude and dire results contributed to the problem, so off I went in search of the perfect partners.
I’ve now found them thanks to a combination of the steps below. Here are my tips on finding the right supplier for your next business project.
1. Define your objectives
Get clear on exactly what you want to achieve. The more detail you can provide someone, the better equipped they will be to deliver on your objectives.
This includes things like budget, timeframes, writing a brief etc.
2. Ask for recommendations
Before you go out blindly trying to find the right person to help you achieve your goals, ask friends, family and business associates for their recommendations. If they’ve achieved great results by using the services of a certain person or company, chances are that you will too. If you don’t know anyone in the same line of business, try online forums such as Flying Solo.
Once you’ve got a list of potential people to call, do your research. Ideally you’ll want to meet face to face (Skype will also do) to be able to judge whether they are the right person for the job. Whilst skills and previous work are important factors to consider at this stage, so are potential personality clashes. Can you see yourself enjoying a happy professional relationship with this person? Do they seem to understand your business? Your pain points? Do they believe in your mission?
At this stage I also do some additional online research, scouring forums and the land of Google to ensure they haven’t let anyone down in the past – you’d be surprised what’s out there!
4. Ask the right questions
A key step in the process is making sure you get answers to all your questions at the start of the relationship. It’s helpful to compile a list of selection criteria that you’d like someone to fulfill.
Questions to ask include:
Have they completed similar work in the past?
What were the results achieved?
Can they provide case studies or references?
What are their quality assurance processes?
What is the reporting process?
Always ask for a written proposal that outlines exactly the scope of work and the deliverables and a contract that clearly sets out any terms and conditions.
Once thing I would advise against is signing lengthy minimum term contracts. A trial period of 3 months should give you a good indication of whether you’ve made the right decision.
5. Monitor, monitor, monitor!
You may be busy running the day-to-day side of things but it’s important to ensure that any promises are being delivered upon. Schedule weekly catch-ups and conduct regular performance reviews. You don’t want to get to the end of a project expecting that things have been done only to realize the other party hasn’t fulfilled their obligations.
Remember: Your business is your baby and you wouldn’t let just anyone look after your child so the same due diligence should be paid when selecting the right supplier to work with you.
Have you used a similar process to find the perfect supplier for you business or have you gone strictly by recommendations?
Image source: Young Folk Society