Partner Due Diligence

In the ninth video of my ecommerce replatforming masterclass series, I give practical advice and insights on how to do due diligence once you’ve selected a preferred systems integrator partner, to give you peace of mind that the agency you work with really is the best fit with business needs, operational capabilities and budget.

[Learning time: 3 mins 29 sec]

Video transcript

Hello, and welcome to the ninth video in my ten part series on ecommerce replatforming. In this video we’re going to be talking about doing partner due diligence after you’ve selected your preferred partner from the shortlisting process, which was covered in the previous video.

This is really important because even if you’ve followed a structured process for selecting your preferred partner, you still need to do a more detailed due diligence to ensure that you’ve not missed anything, and that actually these people are really fit for purpose, to deliver against your commercial, your legal, your financial requirements.

So, the first thing to do is to do a more detailed set of testimonials and references. Speak to the clients that the partner has recommended, and get a range of people who are in build phase and those who have gone through build and are in maintenance and have been for a while, so you can understand the transition and the ongoing quality of support. But also ensure that you’ve spoken to as many people as you can through your network, to find out any skeletons in the closet, or any issues that have happened. Don’t just rely on testimonial clients – no agency puts forward a client testimonial that isn’t positive!
Also ask your systems integrator which projects have they found the most difficult, and why? And what did they learn from it? And how will that enable them to improve their service to you? Because nothing’s perfect, these partnerships are complex and things do go wrong. And sometimes it’s a mixture of issues on both sides, sometimes it’s the client’s fault, sometimes it’s the agency. It’s really important to understand that they have a process for learning and applying and improving.

The next thing is the detailed cost model. You would have had indicative costs through the process up to now, but you need to get them to go back and sense check what they think the final costs that will be pitched into the legal agreement. So, at this point you need to have a final agreement on the scope, and that is what’s going to delivered in phase one MVP, but also what is within the initial budget, and must be delivered functionally after the MVP launch. It’s crucial to have this locked down, at least at a high level statement, so you know what functional capabilities will be delivered by them and for what cost.
And split out to that Discovery phase, to get them to revaluate off the back of all the discussions how much time and effort that they think discovery will be, to do all the detailed functional specifications that will enable them to push information to the development teams.

That’s the financial bit. And then the other thing to ask from them at this time is a draft project plan. So based on what they know, the budget, scope, how long will the project be, what are the milestone. So, when will development phases start? When will UAT kick in? They don’t have to give a detailed project plan at this stage,that will be submitted and refined during discovery, so that before you start development it’s detailed and set in stone. At this stage you need an understanding of their planning process, and the amount of time. Is this now a six to nine month project or a nine to twelve month project?

And then it’s getting the documentation, so SLA’s, MSA’s. Service level agreements for things like hosting, support & maintenance. Master Service Agreements that are the one ring that binds all the documents, making sure that you’ve gone through that with a fine tooth comb from a legal perspective, and that you have a legal expert alongside you. And if you don’t have experience of reviewing and signing off legal documents, don’t do it without getting somebody who does, because it’s amazing how getting the details wrong in some clauses can cause you issues later on. So really important to nail this all down as thoroughly as possible, take the time to do this right before jumping into the project.
Hopefully that’s been useful and any questions, please feel to get in contact. Thank you.

Hopefully, you found this useful. If you haven’t seen the other videos in the series, then please do go back, I’m giving you lots of practical insights and tips on how to run an ecommerce replatform. And if you have any more questions, then please get in contact with me. You’ll find my contact details on the website.

Thanks very much.

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