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The hidden costs of hiring the wrong digital partner

Thierry Marcoux
Feb 11, 2022 ∙ 4 mins
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To develop a robust and competitive digital solution, you’ll need to tap the expertise of designers, software architects, developers, QA, project managers, business analysts, and more. But, because the technical workforce is in hot demand right now (and salaries in these domains are climbing), it’s proving expensive to hire new in-house talent. In response to this, many companies look to external vendors.

But, many companies are fearful of making the wrong choice when selecting a partner. And it’s no wonder—according to a McKinsey study, 17% of IT projects turn out so badly, they cause the collapse of the company. And of the digital projects that pass muster, 45% exceed their allocated budget.

In this article, I highlight the true costs of hiring the wrong digital partner, how to narrow down your search, and a few of the benefits of having a solid technological partner in your corner—particularly one that shares your values.

Select the wrong partner (at your peril)

When the ink dries on your contract and you kick off a digital project with someone new, there’s inevitably a period of time where your hands are tied. This is when you hold your breath and hope you made the right call.

Ramping up the acquired knowledge of a project with a new partner is particularly expensive. This is in part because the vendor starts seeing cash-in-hand, but secondly because you must divert valuable internal resources away from other projects to get your vendor up-to-speed. If your chosen partner isn’t autonomous or a self-starter, you risk team members getting bogged down and distracted from other initiatives that impact your bottom line.

Once you enter the development phase, things shift further. Calling it quits during this period is particularly tricky because most source code isn’t reusable (unless it’s clean and well-documented). Chances are, if you’re looking to switch partners, you’re not satisfied with the output and you’ll have to start development work from scratch with a new provider.

The hidden costs of an ill-fitting partner don’t end there. Remember that McKinsey study I mentioned earlier? They additionally uncovered that large IT projects typically run 7% over time and deliver 56% less value than predicted, so you might need to adjust your expectations re: return on investment.

Looking for “the one”

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to mitigate risk when on the hunt for your digital solutions partner.

Do your due diligence

Evaluate the offerings and approaches of a few firms before choosing your partner. We recommend evaluating at least three, so there’s sufficient data in your decision matrix. Avoid weighting pricing criteria too heavily. Selecting the cheapest option is very risky and typically results in bad programming. Quality over cost in software development. Always.

Date before you marry

Before committing to the full scope, test a small project or mandate with your first-pick vendor. You’ll quickly uncover if you were wooed by a sales team that talks the talk, as opposed to being matched with a product team that walks the walk. Tune in to your supplier’s reactions when they’re faced with challenges and special requests—this is likely to foreshadow the dynamics of your long-term relationship. At Osedea, we start every new relationship with a custom discovery phase on the project to make sure we’re the right fit for the client (and vice versa). It’s easier to part ways with a supplier after a design phase than when you actually start coding the solution.

Choose a partner that shares your values

Shared values are integral to every successful relationship, so get clear on the areas in which you align and deviate. For example, if accessibility, security, or diversity are key drivers in your organization, find a partner with a similar approach. Doing so will make for a smoother relationship, less clashing, and you’re more likely to get an end-product that fits your needs. And because most projects are long-term in tech, find a provider that isn’t a one-trick pony. You want to look for a team that’s as invested as you are in nurturing a fruitful relationship.

When the shoe fits

When you make the right call choosing a digital partner, there are some undeniable benefits. You can expect a faster return on your investment. You can focus on what you’re good at. You’ll acquire instant access to experts. You’ll get an outside perspective that adds value (read more about how choosing the right firm will give you confidence and peace of mind in our blog post: Digital solutions: four reasons why real pros are a must).

So how about it? You + us = match made in heaven? Get in touch to see if our partnership could go the distance. We’d be humbled to be one of the three digital providers you’re evaluating.


Photo credit: Designecologist