How to maximize business results in your relationship with the software provider

On the 27th of March our CEO, Octavian Dumitrescu, had a presentation during the ecomTEAM conference. He discussed ways to maximize business results in the relationship with the software provider, from the perspective of past experiences.

Customsoft started in 2006, and the e-commerce journey began in 2007. 2014 is the year that marks the launch of the Eva e-commerce platform, followed shortly by Eva B2B and Eva Marketplace. During the time we worked with multiple customers, such as Doraly, evoMAG, and Vitacom. Currently, our customers are spread among four continents; we are always upgrading and launching new things. Our team consists of 25 colleagues, and it’s growing.

The future is tied to technology and digitalization. A while ago we attended the 5th International B2B Software Days conference in Wien and had the opportunity to listen to Michael Zettel, Country Managing Director of Accenture Austria, a Fortune 500 consultancy company, talk about starting the post-digital era. Entering this stage doesn’t mean that the process of digital is over like it might sound; on the contrary, businesses won’t be competitive anymore unless they have this component integrated. 

The software supplier is the central pylon of digitalization, so we thought it would be useful to discuss several crucial aspects related to this. Everything we share was learned throughout the almost 13 years of experience with our customers.

The typical situation is: a problem with the software system leads to the customer criticizing the developer. Probably you have experienced this too. But let’s check the other perspective.

Regarding this situation, we have a story to share. Towards the beginning of our company journey, a customer emailed us one morning about a significant problem. One colleague started working on it, and it took 3-4 hours to solve, without leaving the desk because of the gravity of the situation. In the end, she replied the initial email only with „Done! It’s solved”.

What is wrong in this situation? The lack of communication! And this is just one of the aspects that we want you to be careful in the relationship with your software partner.

We have prepared for you five other facts that you need to take into account:

  1. I need to make sure that my partner thoroughly understands my business;
  2. I need to make sure that I know his processes entirely;
  3. I need to define more explicitly what I need;
  4. I need to make sure that my partner can give me the support I need;
  5. Last but not least, I need to be confident that I can give my partner the help he needs because it’s a two-way deal.

Think about something: have you ever invited the developing team in your headquarters to show them how things work in your business? We try to plan visits to our customers at least for the project manager to gain a better understanding of the company concerning what we are developing for them.

Ask yourself: how much do I know about how my software provider works?

We always present the way we work, from analysis to developing, testing, delivery, and support after delivery, as we think it is essential to clarify everything with our partners to know precisely on what we will be able to relay and when.

For example, we use planning with one or two months in advance, and if one of our customers told us about a new developing they would need that month there would be a problem, as we couldn’t help as fast as wanted. Of course, there are always alternatives, but it is imperative to know them concerning your software partner.

Are you sending your requests to your partner detailed in writing? Or through the phone? Each software development requires an exact description of the business fluxes and a technical approach towards the solution.

We are doing a detailed analysis of every developing over a certain complexity, as we like to „measure three times and cut once.” The result is a document similar to a plan clear for both parties. This removes risks and reduces costs.

It is essential to establish with the partner a response time and to know the available resources according to business needs. Another story is about a customer that has a maintenance package with included hours but doesn’t have a support package with guaranteed response times (or SLA). The moment the application went in production with real clients (until then there were only tests between he and us), we proposed a support package to remove any business risk in case we cannot intervene at that moment.

Another aspect to keep in mind: have you ever connected your software supplier with any other supplier, let’s say a delivery company or an online-payment company? Keep in mind that you are in contact with both of the suppliers, but between them is no contractual relationship, which makes everything more difficult, from setting deadlines to the real interest to solve any situation. It happened to us to be in direct contact with a supplier of one of our clients and the supplier, for various reasons delayed the project for a few months. From this experience, we learned to encourage our customers to participate transparently to this process with us to make sure there are no delays.

We hope that this article brought up relevant pieces of information for you.