There can be an overwhelming number of options when it comes to finding a digital partner to provide solutions that evolve your business. So, how do you know that you’ve signed on with the right one? Or if you’re actively searching (or know you should be), how do you find and select the right one?
Every company is unique and has individualized needs, and fit is a difference maker to success and ROI. But no single digital agency or solution provider is going to be 100% on the mark for every business. So in this post, we cover what you need to know or consider when evaluating a digital partnership for your business.
What is a Digital Partner?
You can’t tell if you have the best digital business partner without first understanding what a digital partner is.
Simply put, a digital partner is another person or company that helps you achieve business goals using tech-based solutions. You may also see digital partners called things like:
- Digital business partners
- Digital transformation partners/companies
- Digital agencies
- Digital solution providers
The Importance of Finding the Right Digital Business Agency
Engaging an appropriate digital partner is vital for many reasons. Ultimately, though, it comes down to the likelihood and magnitude of success.
You’ll be spending a fair amount of time, effort, and money on your digital endeavors—having the right agency ally can maximize the value you get from your financial, emotional, and other investments. On the flip side, a strong alliance can also help your business minimize waste, frustration, risks, and other possible negative outcomes.
How To Choose a Digital Partner
Based on our years of experience, the following traits and practices denote a high-quality digital partner. If applied thoughtfully and appropriately to your engagement—you just might have an ideal digital partnership.
#1 Your Digital Partner is Invested in Your Success
You aren’t just an income stream to your digital partner. Your digital partner cares about milestones and end results. It wants your business and its employees to thrive. You feel like you’re “in this together.” When the tide comes in, everyone’s boat rises.
If you’re collaborating with a partner to serve your clients with digital solutions, this is even more essential. After all, your partner is fundamentally an extension of your brand, whether its white label or an open partnership to your client stakeholders.
#2 Your Digital Partner Responds in a Timely Manner
Your digital partner is accessible and available. When you have questions, someone gets back to you quickly—even if it’s just to say, “Let me get back to you on that.” You aren’t forced to hunt down an account manager. Or worse, left to just blow in the wind.
#3 Your Digital Partner Communicates With You, Not At You
No one appreciates being talked at— ever. But this is particularly true when it comes to technology and digital solutions. A digital partner that does this is not primed to learn from you (throwing lots of tech acronyms at you is another red flag) . The best outcomes are borne out of active listening, conversation, collaboration, and consensus—all of which require bi-directional discourse and a shared understanding.
#4 Your Digital Partner Recognizes that You’re a Unicorn
Your business isn’t a dime a dozen. It has a distinctive set of strengths, differentiators, constraints, and so on. Your digital partner needs to internalize this and design solutions that meet your unique demands and address your client demands (if relevant). You deserve a digital partner that’s committed to aligning with your processes.
#5 Your Digital Partner Doesn’t Claim to Have All the Answers
There’s always going to be a learning curve—every business is different and you’re doing something that’s never been done before. While your digital partner should definitely have the knowledge and skills to do the tasks at hand, it should have a healthy respect for the unknown. As such, it should be dedicated to developing the needed solutions and building relationships as it gathers information along the way.
#6 Your Digital Partner Asks Questions
Your digital transformation partner is genuinely curious about your operation. It wants to deeply understand what you’re doing, how you do it, and why. Your digital partner is on a mission to get to the roots of problems, so it can offer viable and meaningful solutions.
#7 Your Digital Partner Has a Solid Reputation
Good standing in the business community tells you a lot about a digital partner. Does it have a legitimate, high-caliber client roster - current and former? How long has it been in business? Will it provide relevant referrals? What do employees say about working there?
#8 Your Digital Partner is Transparent, in a Good Way
A digital partner that plays cloak and dagger or hide-and-go-seek with how and what it’s doing is a red flag. Certainly, they aren’t going to give away proprietary details, but your digital agency should be forthcoming with its policies and practices related to your engagement.
#9 It Doesn’t Shy Away from Difficult Situations
When the going gets tough, the last thing you need is a digital partner that gets going. There are always going to be surprises and challenges in business projects. The right digital partner will address them with you.
#10 Your Digital Partner Specializes in Digital Solutions
You’re going the extra mile to hire external help for your digital undertaking—so your digital partner better eat, sleep, and breathe all things digital. Otherwise, what’s the point?
#11 Your Digital Partner Rejects Cookie-Cutter Deliverables
It’s okay to leverage proven frameworks and design/build techniques—and maybe incorporate some off-the-shelf components—but you’re tapped in to a digital agency because you need a solution for your company or your clients', not any company. Seek out partners that are platform agnostic—for example, working with multiple CRMs, ERPs, marketing automation platforms, CMS, and website solutions.
#12 Your Digital Partner Knows that Tech Isn’t the Whole Solution
Of course the digital component is the headliner of this show. But it’s not the only act. A proper solution will take other elements into consideration. It recognizes the humans in the system. It looks at end-to-end processes, including inputs, bottlenecks and pain points, and deliverables. Your digital partner should know this and proceed accordingly.
#13 Your Digital Partner Creates Solutions for Today & Tomorrow
Your digital agency should be addressing your current needs as well as helping to future-proof your business. If the solutions offered by your digital partner can’t grow or evolve with you or your operating environment—you might need to reconsider the partnership.
#14 Your Digital Partner Sees the Big & Small Pictures Simultaneously
Being able to see things from the 30,000-foot level and the 3-foot level is a necessity. Without this forte, a digital partner probably won’t be capable of creating solutions that are as robust, integrated, and optimized for your requirements - and ultimately for the kind of adoption that delivers success.
#15 Your Digital Partner Excels at Project Management
Knowing everything about digital technologies and implementation isn’t enough. Your digital partner must have project management chops. Planning and executing projects involve a lot of moving pieces and it’s key that your digital agency can keep you moving forward towards a successful finish. Look for successful case work at a similar scale - or bigger - to your own initiative(s) and project types. Knowing that your digital partner has its act together instills confidence that important details won’t be overlooked or lost, and project communication will be smooth.
#16 Your Digital Partner Has Soft & Hard Skills
Balance has its merits. A digital agency that only has tech skills or is only adept at administrative activities just won’t cut it. Your digital partner ought to be well-rounded overall so that you can accomplish great project work and have a friendly and honest professional relationship.
#17 Your Digital Partner Feels Like a Good Fit
Sometimes there’s just an X factor that’s hard to define in mere words. You can just tell in your gut that you and your digital partner mesh well. Call it aligned cultures, je ne sais quoi, etc.—it just clicks. You get each other, there’s good rapport, and you’re able to collaborate efficiently and effectively. You’re able to quickly and constructively sort out any issues that may arise. If it feels off currently, it probably is.
Splice, the Best Digital Transformation Partner for Your Business
It takes a lot to be the “right” digital partner. But, it’s worth it for your business to find and engage that ideal-for-you digital agency. You’ll save time, money, and headaches while also attaining better project and business outcomes.
At Splice, we pride ourselves on embodying all those desirable qualities discussed above. (And our clients seem to agree!) We’re committed to helping your business flourish and have the know-how to create the digital solutions you need.
Frequently Asked Question, Answered
What is a Digital Partner?
It’s another person or business that helps you achieve business goals with the use of digital solutions.
Why Hire a Digital Business Partner?
Your chances of success go up because a digital partner has the specific expertise and capacity your team lacks. Plus, the cost of risks and failure can be quite hefty.
What are Some Questions to Ask When Considering a Digital Partner?
Find out about its experience and expertise, past clients, and policies and practices. You’ll want to ensure it has the technical abilities required and that it’s pleasant and professional to work with.