When it comes to domestic suppliers, like utilities, insurance, and financial services, these days the majority of us don’t think twice about regularly switching providers to save money, experience improved performance, get better customer service, or enjoy the latest functions and features.
According to Mintel, 73% of adults have used comparison websites to switch personal and household service suppliers in the past year. Yet, when it comes to switching B2B service providers, like IT consultancies and software development partners – despite the widespread switching mindset of today – business leaders are still holding back and putting up with inferior work.
Leading UK software development consultancy, Propel Tech, which works with clients across multiple sectors, such as manufacturing, automotive, retail, and real estate, to improve and overhaul software systems, shares the most common concerns and misconceptions businesses have when considering taking the leap:
A new partner will find problems we didn’t know we even had – it’s more trouble than it is worth.
This may be the case, but it doesn’t mean every problem must be fixed straight away. Using the home improvement analogy, a leaky tap may be a longer-term priority, whereas a broken lock would need urgent attention. However, business leaders must understand where problems, including risks and weaknesses, exist to transform them into opportunities and strengths.
A new software development partner will not understand our unique business needs.
The premise of bespoke software is that every problem, process, and solution is different and generated to serve a business’s unique needs. Working with reputable, experienced software developers who not only understand tech but what makes different businesses tick, will bring a fresh perspective and open up new and exciting opportunities.
We’re planning a programme of change, so switching our supplier isn’t a priority right now.
If a company is squarely focused on expansion or change, working strategically with experienced software developers will enable it to grow and pivot more efficiently, be that by facilitating new services, automating systems, or optimising data.
In our industry, we can only work with a limited number of niche consultancies.
Consultancies that work with clients across multiple industries have much more first-hand experience of things that work – and don’t work – and can borrow different ideas and learnings that might have succeeded in a completely different sector.
Broader experience allows developers to think outside of the box, and bring a variety of transferable skills and experience to the table.
Our maintained system is a bit problematic – but doesn’t all software have its quirks?
Many systems that are overseen by software developers have quirks. It doesn’t mean they have to be accepted. Particularly if they are costing time and money and compromising company standards. Slow-loading systems in any sector can impact human productivity, small problems with automated software can be the cause of major inefficiencies, and if a system goes down completely, businesses can grind to a halt – which is less than ideal.
Instead of taking it on the chin, businesses should build a case to discover the true impact of these ‘quirks’ and overlay that with the potential value of fixing them.
Andrew Brown, co-founder of Propel Tech, advises: “List the issues or quirks within your system, large and small, then work out the cost to the business in terms of time, money, and quality. It could be that you don’t know there is a problem, so bringing in a third-party supplier to conduct a one-off audit could highlight the uses – and even split them into acceptable and urgent problems.”
We like our software developers – they’re a bit flaky at times, but better the devil you know.
Good client-partner relationships are important, and key to successful collaborations. But flakiness can also cost your business dearly. Regular supplier evaluations, across the board, are a good way to weigh up the pros and cons of a relationship, the risks associated with working with certain suppliers, and the true cost of sticking in your comfort zone. Don’t let your supplier relationships become stagnant so that they hold you back – as sticking with a supplier that provides low-quality work and doesn’t stick to rigid, well-documented processes, is likely to present big problems in the long term.
We’re under contract with our software development company.
Ask your legal team to check your service level agreement. If your current partner is not delivering the levels and quality of work that’s been agreed upon, they could be in breach of contract. Are there any break clauses in the contract, or is it a rolling contract following an initial longer stretch?
Even if there is no opportunity to exit your agreement, if your supplier is not delivering, buying yourself out of a contract may be cheaper. It’s all about balancing the current state of affairs with the potential gains from switching.
A new supplier will want to change everything – costing us money we don’t have
There is truth in the adage that you get what you pay for – particularly when it comes to B2B partners. When choosing a supplier, businesses must consider the long-term value rather than the short-term costs. They may be surprised to find that spending more money upfront will save money throughout the wider business in the long term.
Modernising and maintaining software systems allow businesses to grow, pivot, stay out of crippling technical debt in the future, and avoid the costly – both monetary and reputationally – the fallout of a security breach. Furthermore, working with a reputable, trusted partner will give a business better, faster, and more reliable service, which can be passed on to its customers and stakeholders.
To help businesses get a handle on switching suppliers, Propel Tech has published an extensive, free guide on what to expect and how to maximize impact. The free downloadable eBook explains how outsourcing software suppliers can add value to a business, the best time to consider changing patterns, the pros and cons of switching, and how to evaluate your existing supplier.