14 Questions to Ask Potential System Integration Companies (Revised September 2020)
Systems integration work is critical in ensuring all devices function in harmony toward the company’s common goal. Manufacturing companies often struggle in pairing all the systems together. That’s why many are now turning to “system integration” companies for guidance.
To help guarantee your company begins its project on the right footing, we’re highlighting questions to ask when choosing systems integration specialist.
Pre-Selection Questions and Research Criteria:
- How long has the company been around? The length of their history is proportional to the experience they have in implementing solutions in a variety of environments.
- What are the company’s verticals or specializations? Based on past projects and clients, you are able to make a list of the company’s specializations.
- Is the system integration team made up of employees, contractors, or both? Employees will, by far, be more stable and available for a longer period of time versus contractors, who come in and out as a project is needed. Employees will provide long-term stability, but contractors are temporary contributors during the life cycle of the project. Any knowledge a contractor has will only be beneficial during their contract period.
- How has the system integration team handled challenges and roadblocks in the past? If the system integration team has experience with many types of technologies, they’re more likely to deliver out-of-the-box thinking and creative problem-solving possibilities.
- What is the experience level of the team who will be working on the project?You want to hear specifics, including certifications, and previous projects they’ve worked on that were similar to yours or customer stories.
- How does the company handle unexpected challenges? Do they think well on their feet? Have they ever failed with a project implementation? You want to hear their approach and what to expect when it comes to solving problems and delivering service.
- Does the system integration team only have required backgrounds, or do they come from different areas of expertise etc. performance, product development, engineering, or even sales and marketing? Expertise in skills like robotics, system control, programming, and engineering is essential. But expertise doesn’t just come from doing the similar projects over and over; it’s about the team’s diversity and creativity. Diverse experiences will give them a deeper understanding of your entire business, its needs and objectives.
First few Meetings Questions and Concerns:
- How can you help us meet our goals for this project? The integration company you choose should have the expertise to help you in meeting your target goals for the years ahead. They should work with you to examine your current capabilities, and build a system that supports your business goals moving forward. The company might also help your business choose new components as part of this process. Their role as a partner will be to help you conserve expenditure while retaining productivity.
- How can your work reduce our costs? One of the primary reasons to begin the systems integration process is to reduce costs within the organization. Companies can save on labor costs when they have all systems working in unison rather than having separate teams operating each area. But it’s important that system integration companies chosen for your projects have a clear sense on how they can reduce your costs. Will they work to minimize the time it takes to complete testing procedures? Can they build a system that integrates several core features and allows your business to reduce its spending on new technology in future? These will be critical questions to consider when analyzing service providers.
- Do you understand the business goals and targets for the project or do you need more resources to completely understand our business goals? Preferably, the company’s representatives are asking questions that show they are proactively thinking through different scenarios, understand your business growth strategy, and call out any potential issues or challenges while in the mutual evaluation process. They should understand how the project will impact your company, even beyond the scope of the project, and make sure it is tailored to your company’s needs.
- What challenges do you predict within our project? Companies within the system integration marketplace have often completed hundreds of other projects for their clients across the country. This means they’ll have the experience of encountering challenges within past projects. Whether it’s incompatibility between systems or a component issue, they’ll be able to predict potential challenges. It’s important that your team has a full understanding on these challenges and how the systems integration specialist intends to counteract them.
Post-Selection Questions and Research Criteria:
- Do they think definitely about your project and ask the right questions? Having a proactive approach will help them catch potential challenges or obstacles early on – maybe before you even realize them – and solve them faster.
- Do their values complement yours? Collaboration success depends on the work dynamic between the two organizations. Corporate culture is the unspoken fabric from which an integrator company makes decisions and determines how they show up in an engagement.
- Does the system integration team look at your business even beyond the stated scope? Or does the team have an “order taker” culture that gives you the sense they work from a template, no matter your circumstances?
The experts here at AB Controls have decades of experience working to integrate systems to ensure clients achieve their operational goals and drive greater performance over the long-term. To discover more on our services, call our team now for a consultation.