5 Unmistakable Signs of Vendor Fatigue

— Is your vendor a partner or a pain? Use these 5 signs to conduct a vendor performance evaluation.

Posted: November 08, 2017

When you contract a Sitecore partner to architect client-facing websites and applications, you forge a symbiosis: Their success is your success and their failure is your own. The last thing an organization wants is to discover too late that their partner has failed to generate desired business outcomes. 

Pay close attention to these five key performance indicators to avoid getting sucked down by a sinking partnership.

Failure to do waht they said they would

Closely review your vendor's written and verbal promises. Pore over service-level agreements in the actual contract. But also be mindful of the perceived value expressed by the vendor in day-to-day interactions. This will help you delineate between promises and impressions. The former is what you actually receive. The latter is what the vendor wants you to think you’re getting.

Within the first few months you should have enough information to forecast return on investment. For example, how many iterations of design proposals did you have to reject before they hit the target? Did the early deliverables meet expectations? Did the value align with the partner’s transcendent rhetoric, or was it just OK?

For more comprehensive projects, you may not see your first deliverable for many months. But as you inch toward that end goal you can ascertain the value of your partnership by focusing on other attributes:

●      Process efficiency. 

●      Ease of communication and collaboration.

●      Timeliness of delivery and responses to support queries. 

●      Project governance that facilitates adherence to business-value requirements.

All of these indicate whether your partner is on course to deliver value to you and your customers.

Lack of Innovation

Good enough isn’t. Your vendor should give you something you've never seen before, especially when that deliverable influences your customers' experience through UI and design. You're not paying them to mirror the status quo. You're paying them to create revenue opportunities that you couldn’t have fathomed. That's the difference between outsourcing to a vendor and innovating with a partner. At best, the former breaks even, and maybe saves you some time. The latter generates tangible ROI in new and unexpected ways. 

Granted, that value may not always be readily apparent early on. So try to focus on measurable output early in the relationship:

●      User experience and architecture best practices. 

●      Gap analysis on architecture or stack.

●      Use of new tools or features.

●      Load balancing and testing.

Budget inconsistencies and mismanagement

Burning through the budget is a tell-tale sign that your partner won’t deliver on budget and on time. Requesting more money down the road for the same work is a clear symptom of process inefficiencies and poor decision-making. 

If your vendor moves the goal post for budget after the initial bid, it should be for a good reason.

Rule of thumb: If you're not convinced that the increased budget will result in increased ROI, then you may be on a collision course with a money pit.

Ineffective time to market

Agile software development has completely shifted how businesses look at project management. Software development and UI design happen faster than in the "waterfall" days.

Nevertheless, vendors must be circumspect in how they promise time to value. For instance, a complete facelift of a web application might require some training, new configuration and system validation. Time to value, like budget, will be influenced by the scale and complexity of the project. 

However, that time to value should never resemble a moving target as a result of vendor delivery. If the aforementioned web app redesign is meant to be the centerpiece of a more comprehensive rebranding, a vendor delay could disrupt your entire business's timeline. 

Make sure your vendor has a clear vision and a chronological roadmap to match it. 

A shortage of expertise and experience 

Modern consumers expect a transformative web experience. They’re wowed by practical applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning and other advanced Sitecore capabilities that make web interfacing intuitive, self-sufficient and personalized. Miss the mark though, and you risk creating a sub-par user experience that hampers user engagement.

According to Sitecore’s own research, 96 percent of consumers believe there’s such a thing as poor website personalization. Yet 31 percent of brands say they lack access to skills needed for proper data utilization, and 42 percent struggle with data collection integrations. Your Sitecore partner should be capable of filling in those knowledge gaps to avoid a poor customer experience.

For example, the lack of seamless integration, both from a tech-stack perspective and integrating with client-side teams, is notorious for inducing buggy UI behavior. If your vendor isn’t knowledgeable or experienced enough to deliver elevated UX features that work, they’ll let your customers down every time.

Businesses must seek out vendors that aren't too small or resource-impoverished to handle big projects in a timely manner, nor too massive that they fail to be attentive to a client's unique challenges. Just as importantly, they need to have a proven track record of delivering expertise and innovation on time and on budget.

You need a partner, not a vendor

When you enlist the help of a third-party organization, you need to hold them to the highest standard. Make them provide knowledge and insight that you don't already have. If they can’t supply innovation, then they’re not worth your time or your money.

Stop failing with the “perfect vendor,” and start succeeding with a strategic Sitecore partner. On-time, on-budget and on-point innovation is just a click away. 

Leveraging Sitecore to Achieve Customer Experience Maturity