Organizations of all sizes and from all industries rely on outside experts to support and strengthen their businesses. These include experts in accounting, human resources, law, and information systems. As professionals compete for your business, it can be overwhelming to sort through myriad of options and qualifications. This article provides a list questions to ask when selecting an information systems expert to integrate technology that will best serve your organization’s mission and goals.

The decision to contract with a technology integrator can be driven by many factors…including the need to introduce new technology and/or the need for additional technical resources to augment in-house staff. Regardless of the impetus, you must carefully evaluate the qualifications, experience, and the customer service record of prospective integrators. It is well documented that the majority of IT projects fail to meet expected outcomes. Ask for assurances that your project will be well-managed, will produce planned efficiencies, and remain in-scope and within budget.

Ask the following questions when evaluating a prospective integrator. The answers may help to better ensure a smooth implementation, mitigate risk, and save time and money.

• Does the integrator position themselves as a provider of technology to solve a short term problem? Or, are they consultants who can help you plan and implement long-term solutions?

• Does the integrator provide a solution only after carefully evaluating your business and operational requirements? Or, do they seem to be focused on what technologies are “hot” at the moment?

• Does the integrator have a proven track record for analyzing the technical and business environment, creating a customized statement of work, developing a detailed project schedule, and providing expert project management?

• Can the integrator demonstrate their experience with the required technology and ensure that all staff dedicated to your project will have the tools and training necessary for on-schedule and on-budget delivery? Can they provide certified experts in multiple technologies that span a broad range of vendor products?

• Does the integrator have strong partnerships with industry-leading manufacturers to provide all the products and services required to complete the statement of work?

• Does the integrator understand the impact that deploying technology will have on your existing infrastructure…including your network, your security architecture, your business processes, and your employees and customers?

• Does the integrator have a comprehensive plan and the requisite resources to provide ongoing support and maintenance, and to ensure that you continue to optimize your investment?

Obviously, there are many other things to consider depending on the nature and scope of your technical needs. Remember to insist upon timely reporting and updates from your integrator throughout the project. Today’s technology is strategic to your organization. So be sure to evaluate not only the resources and skills of a prospective integrator, but also their commitment to your success.

William B. Riddick is president of Computer Service Partners.