Commissioning an IT Supplier

IT, tech and software applications can all help your business grow in a more profitable and efficient way. For a successful outcome, you will need to formally engage the services of several reputable IT suppliers – commissioning an IT supplier need not be too much of a risk or challenge though.

Engaging with any form of supplier has its benefits. There are also associated risks, especially with ‘new tech’ and very small businesses having limited resources. To better manage these risks, my recommendations are threefold.

Firstly, clearly scope the project. Make sure it is clear and unambiguous. What is being created/delivered, what is not? It should be as specific as possible, and describe exactly what you are buying or commissioning. If the supplier delivers exactly what’s on the contract, is that exactly what you need and are expecting? Contract law is clear and simple. Ask a peer or business friend to read their proposals/quotes. If they can understand what you’re buying, then it’s probably clearly written.

Secondly, when commissioning an IT supplier, agree what is/is not Intellectual property. Ensure that everything you provide the supplier is still yours at the end of the project, even if the supplier has changed it or enhanced it. Examples include graphics design, photographs and other images, process maps, design documents, presentations etc.

Thirdly, if the supplier is providing a website check that they are handing over all the files needed to reconstitute your website with another web agency and their hosting company. If you’re commissioning custom software, ensure that you receive all of the source code and other files needed to ‘build’ the software with a new supplier. If you don’t have this in place and want to move to a new supplier in the future, you may find yourself in a sticky mess.

Spend some time checking the above before commissioning an IT supplier. This will help to create and keep the relationship with your IT suppliers positive and fruitful.