Spotting the Red Flags in E-Commerce: How Reliable Is Your IT Partner?
icon12 min read
icon Kamil Piekaraicon 11.07.2023

Spotting the Red Flags in E-Commerce: How Reliable Is Your IT Partner?

Countless companies offer IT services, and choosing the right one is not easy. Each project comes with risks, such as overshooting the budget, missing deadlines, or failing to meet the required solution. You cannot afford to make a wrong choice. How to make the right one?

Don't let mere boasts of skills, quality, and an impressive portfolio sway you. You need a reliable, ethical, and competent partner to succeed. Assessing these qualities is tricky because they're often difficult to measure.

How do you choose the right IT services company when the cost of making a wrong choice can be astronomical? While finding a trusted partner is challenging, spotting a bad one can be easier if you know what to look for.

Throughout our journey in this industry, we've had to collaborate with many IT companies. Our experience has helped us hone a discerning eye for identifying cautionary signals. In this article, we'll guide you through key indicators to help you make an informed choice.

#1 Offer before understanding needs

Let’s start with the beginning of your cooperation. You show interest in a new project and meet with a potential service provider. Days pass, and suddenly there's a bang! A thousand-hour project is all laid down for you - a time plan, a list of features, and a promise of exceptional results. Have you ever been in this situation?

Offering solutions too early can suggest poor project planning and a lack of strategic insight. Each project comes with its own unique set of challenges. Having an IT partner that seeks to understand before trying to solve is not an added advantage but a necessity.

If you doubt whether the provider understands your needs, keep the conversation going. If you're unsure about the suggested solution, ask more questions. A good partner will always address all your concerns.

#2 Unrealistic precision in estimates

We all love precision, but in the unpredictable world of IT, overly precise project estimates should raise a red flag. It may seem impressive that an IT partner can give an accurate timeframe and cost prediction. But, this could indicate an unhealthy self-confidence and lack of experience where more obstacles may appear.

IT projects rarely go exactly as planned. Many variables can disrupt even the most carefully laid plans. From technical hiccups and shifting requirements to team changes and unforeseen global events. An IT partner offering a rigid, to-the-hour plan might be unprepared for these inevitable surprises.

The best IT partners understand the complexities and unpredictable nature of such projects. Hence they factor in a margin for adjustments. They'll give you estimates that allow for the unexpected because they know that when it comes to IT, expecting the unexpected is part of the job.

Slippery companies may attempt to address this issue by adding 10% to the estimate. This is not how it should work. Some tasks may be more predictable, while others have the potential to take twice as long as estimated. With this knowledge, you can effectively manage the project's scope and understand how it impacts it.

#3 Delayed start of the project

The beginning of a project often hints at how the rest of it will go. Consider it a red flag if your IT partner is pushing back the start date. Delays could mean they're overpromising, struggling with effective project management, or resource allocation.

A reliable IT agency should prepare a detailed list of what is needed to start the project in advance. This list may include necessary access to systems, data, or personnel. The ability to plan demonstrates their professionalism, commitment, and understanding of the project.

In short, a project's beginning can reveal much about your IT partner's approach. A delayed start could snowball into further delays, affecting the entire project timeline. Spotting early warning signs can prevent later troubles and help ensure your project runs smoothly from start to finish.

#4 Not asking enough questions

When partnering with an IT agency, you'd expect them to ask questions, right? But are they asking enough? Are they diving deep or ticking boxes off a checklist?

The success of an IT project depends on a thorough understanding of your needs and challenges. Overlooking this aspect can result in an expensive solution that misses the mark. The level of communication distinguishes an exceptional software agency from an average one.

But how can you tell if you're being asked the right questions? Look for workshops that are comprehensive and customer-focused rather than technology-obsessed. The best agencies don't follow a script - they adapt to unexpected insights and adjust their approach. You should be surprised by the detailed questions and corner cases they find.

#5 Lack of communication

How frequently are you hearing from your IT partner? Communication is crucial throughout your project, not only in the initial phases. If your IT partner isn't communicating regularly or updating you on project progress, this should sound alarm bells. Misunderstandings, misaligned expectations, and project delays could follow.

As the client, you should be kept in the loop. Regular updates and results presentations are key. They help understand where the project is, what's been achieved, and what comes next.

A confident IT partner might even let you peek behind the curtain, giving you access to the development environment. This openness allows you to track progress and provide feedback, making the process more collaborative. In contrast, a lack of these may signal that your IT partner is either neglecting these crucial aspects or hiding potential problems.

#6 Missing Risk Assessment

No matter how much we plan, unforeseen events are beyond our control. Essential consultants changing jobs, infrastructure failures, or data losses - these can and do happen. But how we prepare for these unforeseen issues sets us apart. A comprehensive risk assessment is a must.

Assessment should detail potential threats, their likelihood, the impact on the project, and a plan to manage these risks. These could include a lead developer leaving or severe cyberattacks crippling the company.

A trusted IT partner does more than identify potential risks. They devise proactive strategies to handle them. Backup plans are in place. Taking care of knowledge transfer, redundancy, and robust cybersecurity measures. By doing so, they ensure that your project can weather any storm.

#7 Concealing the actual faces behind the work

Imagine hiring a renovation crew for your home, and they introduce you to Peter, the only person you're allowed to talk to. You'd feel uneasy, right? The same principle applies when hiring an IT team.

A single point of contact is beneficial, but not if it's a wall between you and the IT professionals. If you have a question about your product's design, you should be able to speak directly to the designer, not only the project manager.

Insist on transparency from your IT partner. Knowing who's actually working on your project is not only reassuring. It's crucial for successful collaboration.

#8 Overdependence on inexperienced staff

In any IT project, resource allocation is critical. If you find your IT partner stretching a senior resource among projects while leaving gaps to be filled by junior staff, be cautious.

Senior professionals should be supervising projects, not juggling them. Junior team members are valuable assets, but over-relying on them can result in costly mistakes due to their lack of experience.

A reliable IT partner knows the importance of balancing senior and junior team members. Ensure your IT partner has a plan for this equilibrium to protect your project's success.

#9 Frequent changes in key personnel

Stability in a project's leadership is an often overlooked but crucial factor in an IT project. If your IT partner constantly rotates the leading developer on your project, it's a cause for concern.

Key personnel, especially leading developers, carry an in-depth understanding of your project. You lose some unique insight each time a person leaves a project. This disrupts the project flow and compromises its quality. Constant swapping indicates deeper issues, like high staff turnover or poor resource allocation.

To ensure your IT project runs smoothly, your leading developer should remain consistent and committed. If frequent changes occur, don't hesitate to ask why – your project's success could depend on it.

Unsure about your IT partner?

Are you spotting red flags with your current IT partner or uncertain about selecting a new one? We're here to help. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your needs and guide you in the right direction. Don't risk your project's success.

I want to evaluate my partner

#10 Not admitting mistakes

Mistakes are inevitable in IT projects. A competent IT partner won't shun errors but will acknowledge, rectify, and learn from them. If your partner avoids admitting mistakes, it's a red flag, signaling an environment of distrust and project hindrance.

Your IT partner should inform you promptly about any errors, explain their impacts, and present a resolution plan. Regular updates on project status are vital for transparency and client engagement. Especially during hurdles.

A reliable IT partner transforms mistakes into learning opportunities. They value open communication and view you as a problem-solving partner. This approach ensures your project stays on course, even in the face of adversity.

#11 Transparency Deficit

Trust is vital in any partnership, particularly in IT projects where hidden costs can strain relationships. Your IT partner should strive for transparency. They should provide clear explanations for their work, regardless of how minor the results may seem. This ensures you understand the efforts invested and the associated costs.

Continuous, open communication is paramount for fostering trust. Regular project updates, explanations of challenges, and discussions on solutions create healthy collaboration. The focus is not only on keeping you informed but also on allowing you to appreciate the expertise, creativity, and hard work at each project stage.

Building trust with your IT partner is an ongoing process. It requires mutual transparency, communication, and accountability. Trust makes navigating the complexities of an IT project smoother and more likely to succeed.

Too many red flags?

Upon detecting an array of red flags in your IT partnership, it's crucial to take immediate action to safeguard your project. Start with an open dialogue and try to improve cooperation with your client. You should state your needs clearly and respectfully.

Don't hesitate to seek the expertise of external companies to oversee your partner's performance. Feel free to seek guidance from partners who have consistently proven their worth.

We take great pleasure in offering our clients valuable insights about their partners. We aim to promote business stability for our clients, as their success underpins our own.

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