Choosing a technology partner: what to watch out for
Author: Albina Zhdanova
Choosing a technology provider is a very challenging project. They will, essentially, become your business partner, so there is a lot of pressure to find the best fit. Today’s article outlines five key areas of focus that brokers should consider when negotiating with potential technology partners.
The first step
Before you go ahead and start researching the market, we recommend that you run a quick analysis of your company and decide on your key goals and expectations. It is essential that you know what to look for and won’t get captivated by flashy things that really mean little for your brokerage.
Start by asking yourself:
1. What is my brokerage now and what do I want it to be in 1,2, and 5 years?
2. What are my immediate and long-term goals?
3. What do I value in a partnership?
4. What are my business ethics?
5. How do I measure success?
6. How much of a change am I committed to making in my brokerage?
Points to consider when evaluating potential partners
Now that we are done with an internal overview and understand our goals and needs better, it’s time to go ahead and initiate discussions with pre-selected technology providers. There are five main points that we recommend looking at:
1. Area and level of expertise
The basic requirement for a technology partner is to be experienced in your field of business. However, there are many more things brokers should take into consideration to ensure they have a good match.
We always recommend having an open conversation with any potential partners to get a better insight into their skills, knowledge, and a general understanding of the industry. It is worth investigating how many people work there, what kind of experience and specialisations they have, and how many experts there are.
Find out if the potential partner supports your business strategy, and what kind of ideas they suggest based on it. A good technology provider will be invested in your global plans, as they will be focused on supporting you with both short- and long-term goals.
Bonus tip: ask about quality control. Brokers are surely interested in getting top-quality products, and top quality is achieved through a clear strategy, planning, and methodology. So, if such a question confuses the provider, they might not be as focused on the best results as they claim.
2. References and feedback from other companies
Always look for online and real-life feedback about your potential partners.
Start by checking their website for customer quotes and success stories. In the discreet world of trading, it would not necessarily be a bad sign if the company doesn’t feature any client names and stories. However, there should be some information and feedback on the internet to prove that this provider really works with clients and delivers results. If you encounter any negative feedback on forums or industry-related websites, address it directly with the company. While an avalanche of negativity might put you off, a couple of dissatisfied reviews is almost unavoidable for companies that have been operating for many years.
Ask around to see if any of your peers have worked with the providers that you are talking to. If you find someone who is willing to share their personal experiences, ask them about their interactions with all stakeholders, about the technical skills, but also the efficiency throughout the project rollout. It is also worth checking how the provider dealt with negative feedback or fixed any issues that came up. How they deal with challenges will shed much more light on your potential partnership than learning about their success stories.
Bonus tip: ask for an average lifetime of clients and team members. It would be a good sign if the company retains both for a longer term.
3. Support and onboarding
Having access to a support team when things go wrong is an absolute minimum requirement. Brokers should check what kind of assistance they are eligible for with potential partners. Don’t hesitate to ask about the details of pre- and post-sale support. A technology provider who is interested in building relationships and helping you grow will offer at least some of the following:
- Training for the team (live or pre-recorded)
- Webinars to cover most common points and questions
- Conference calls
- User guides and other technical documentation
- Periodic content on technology and industry-specific topics
- Customer portal with all resources in one place
- Dedicated Account Manager to reach out to with all queries
If there is no documentation, guides, or any other content available for brokers to check and share with the team, this might mean that the provider is not interested in growing with you, but instead is focused on a quick sale and then moving on to the next client.
4. Future plans
When we are looking for technology partners for our brokerages, we are hoping to find a long-term partner who will be by our side as the business grows and transforms. That’s why one of the key questions every broker needs to ask is about future plans. Just because your current goals align doesn’t mean that they will in one or two years.
The best technology partners offer multiple solutions and platforms to give brokerages room for change and experimentation. During negotiations, try to see if the provider is solution-focused or concentrated on the products. If they are solution-oriented, they are more likely to adapt to change and be able to cater to you, should your needs change along the way.
Questions to ask:
- What is your roadmap for the next couple of years?
- Are you planning on developing new products or acquiring them?
- What is your approach to company growth?
- What are your main projects currently?
5. Working culture and ethics
The importance of corporate culture and ethics is growing for all stakeholders: clients want to work with companies that align with their beliefs and values; employees are more conscious and interested in working for a company they trust; HR and management use it to create teams that work best together.
That’s why it is likely that both brokers and technology providers have their own set of ethical guidelines. And if they don’t align, it can create miscommunication, conflicts, or simply an inefficient partnership. Ethics and culture ultimately determine the business practices, communication styles, and overall attitude towards projects. Don’t be afraid to ask all potential providers about their values and ethics, as it will have a significant impact on your future cooperation.
Bonus tip: look for someone who is open-minded, flexible and adaptive, and is on board with your vision.
We hope that our guide will help you find the right technology partner for fruitful cooperation. Tools for Brokers provides top-level technology solutions for retail brokers of all sizes and focuses. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at email@example.com for more information.
OF ANY PRODUCT