How to Select a Sitecore Partner
So you’ve decided to go with Sitecore as your website’s CMS/platform. Unless you have the development chops in-house, you’re going to need a certified Sitecore partner.
Even companies with strong .NET developers on staff will need outside support for a Sitecore implementation. There are hundreds of Sitecore partners, so it can seem daunting to narrow the list down to one. Before you send out hundreds of RFPs, consider these helpful tips for selecting a Sitecore partner.
Experience with the Platform
Sitecore is a full-featured CMS and digital marketing platform with complex technical underpinnings. That’s why it’s important to hire a partner with proven experience — you don’t want to be a test subject for someone new to Sitecore.
While you may need a specific skill set for your project, here are some general questions to ask:
- How long have you been a Sitecore partner?
- Are you a Platinum, Gold, or Certified partner?
- How many Sitecore projects have you completed, and when? (New Sitecore versions come out regularly, and the system is vastly different today than it was one, three, or five years ago.)
- How many Sitecore-certified developers do you have on staff? Are they full-time employees or contractors?
- Is all work done in-house or do you outsource some of it?
- How many Sitecore MVPs do you have on staff? Are they Technology MVPs or Digital Strategy MVPs?
- Do you have any Sitecore specific code libraries or other project accelerators built from your previous experience?
- Can you provide examples of Sitecore thought leadership?
- How do you ensure your staff stays current on Sitecore features and new releases?
- What other technologies and platforms do you have experience with?
Past Client Projects
One of the main things you should review is a partner’s portfolio. Some partners have broad portfolios with a variety of clients, while others focus on one industry. You should focus on the technical quality of their work and their client references. If they cannot provide valid references for Sitecore-related projects, it may be a warning sign.
When you check their references, look out for projects that are similar in complexity to your project. Some good barometers are the amount of content, number of components or types of integrations employed. Clients will tell you things from a different perspective and they tend to be honest if they’re in a confidential setting. Beyond checking client references, reach out to Sitecore and ask them questions about the partner, their reputation, and their commitment to quality. Sitecore recently made it easier to evaluate partners by categorizing them based on experience levels.
Understanding Your Business Needs
An impressive portfolio isn’t the only factor to weigh. Look to partners that have an informed perspective on your business, coupled with ideas to propel it forward. The ideal Sitecore partner should understand your business goals and propose strategies that fully utilize the platform to fulfill these goals— which means that before any design or code is started, there should be a well thought out discovery and strategy phase. Your partner should understand where you want your business to go and how this implementation will help you get there.
Once your Sitecore implementation is complete, you may think all the work is done, but this is actually where a good partnership is vital. Sitecore is an enterprise system that should grow and change with your business. Like all enterprise systems, it requires a fair amount of support and maintenance to ensure reliability.
If you don’t have in-house Sitecore talent, you should have your Sitecore partner manage ongoing support for your solution in partnership with your IT team. Putting your implementer on the hook for supporting the solution also ensures they have skin in the game, which tends to yield higher-quality solutions.
Selecting a partner comes down to the priorities and goals for your project and beyond. You’ll want to evaluate partners based on how their expertise can align with these goals. Make sure to set expectations for the project early so there aren’t any hiccups along the way. Selecting the right Sitecore partner can help save money down the road by preventing bugs, rescue projects, and unnecessary redesigns.