Finding the Right IBM Sterling B2B/MFT Integration Partner, Part I: InitiationBy: Ameya Pednekar | February 7th, 2023
The importance of engaging the right MFT integration partner cannot be understated. Oftentimes, it’s a make or break decision for any organization looking for guidance with their B2B integration. You need one that takes the time to thoroughly understand your business’ strength and pain points–and one that builds a plan with your business goals in mind.
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of technology partners out there today so let’s focus on what matters most.
You want a partner who will enable you to deliver the best possible product to your customers while saving you (and your company) time, money, and headaches.
Over the years, I’ve completed dozens of new installations, “lift-and-shifts” (migration of existing software to new hardware), and version upgrades for IBM Sterling applications–with plenty of happy customers as the end result. With the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained from my peers and experience with our thorough processes at CoEnterprise, I’d like to offer some insight into what to look for when searching for an integration partner, how we do things here, and how to get the most out of managing your Sterling applications.
Trust the Process
We believe in a holistic approach that focuses on both your applications and infrastructure to create the best possible outcome based on your specific business goals. No matter project type, our process can be divided into three distinct stages:
For today’s blog post, let’s focus on the first step, initiation.
Validate & Review
A thorough review of the statement of work (SOW) is always critical to a successful project. I always ensure I know the scope inside and out, including all deliverables, completion criteria, timelines, and responsibilities so the project stays on time and within the allocated budget. If I have questions, I make sure to review them with our internal team prior to the client kickoff call to ensure we are all on the same page.
Kick Things Off
Once we get to the kickoff call with the client, we use the SOW as a guideline while confirming scope items and everything within the previous step including responsibilities of both ourselves and the client.
Often I find that one of the parties has a different understanding of the SOW, which is completely normal. This could be related to stated business requirements from the customer which previously may not have been known when the two parties negotiated the current SOW. When this happens, we document those differences and review with our internal team so they can be resolved quickly and by the appropriate resource. It is possible that the end result may require some tweaks to the SOW, including:
- Additional scope
- Reduction of scope
- Re-wording of the SOW
As consultants, we need access to our client’s systems to do our work. In fact, it’s a prerequisite before any work can be done. During the kickoff, we’ll gather information regarding the onboarding process and what may be required.
Note: If your integration partner is NOT requesting access to your systems prior to starting the project, that could be a major red flag.
Some clients may also require compliance training prior to accessing their systems (which could be several hours). We make sure to account for that in the SOW and clarify how much is needed as it has the potential to impact overall budget and timeline, especially for smaller projects.
The kickoff call is also a good time to review the preliminary project plan/timeline. This is always completed by the project manager prior to the call. This plan has many factors to review and usually requires extensive input from the client. Doing so serves a dual purpose: first it offers a visual timeline for the client and secondly it enables them to suggest adjustments to given timelines based on turnaround time for their internal teams.
Finally, determining how to report project progress to stakeholders is the last piece of the puzzle for this call. We always make sure we understand and establish how the client would like to receive reports, who they should go to, and who the first point of contact is should an issue arise.
After the kickoff call is complete and all issues are resolved, I begin working on getting access to the client’s environment. I also validate system access and begin requirement gathering in preparation for the installation, “lift-and-shift,” or version upgrade.
In your experience with technology partners, are there other steps you’ve gone through during the first part of the process? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Stay tuned for our next blog post where I will examine the next step in our methodology–the “discovery” process.
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