In IoT project management, it is very difficult to identify the right partner for your project when you have no experience of working with any of your potential partners before. This ‘leap into the dark’ is all the more likely on an Internet of Things (IoT) project. Because IoT projects usually involve many new technologies and developments, they can often require a whole new partner network.
How, then, do you choose the right partners for your IoT project?
What follows in a discussion of the risks involved in choosing the wrong partner and an overview of the ways in which, in our experience, you can make the right choice of partner for your IoT project.
RISK #1: TARGETING THE WRONG PARTNER PROFILE
The ideal partner profile for your project depends on the specific project needs – but it isn’t only about technical skill. If your project requires the production of large volumes of devices, it would be a mistake to deal with a small electronic manufacturing services (EMS) company. However, if you need more niche volume production runs, working with a major EMS won’t be cost-effective either as you may not get all the attention you require.
As we’ve mentioned before in this series, if you are using the Sigfox network, one important partner you will need to think about is the antenna designer. You’ll need to find someone with specific experience of developing radio antenna – not rely on generic product designers who have no experience in this field.
Since you have already created a very detailed project brief and design specification, you will know what you are looking for from potential partners. Match their skills and profile carefully to your needs.
RISK #2: NOT CHOOSING A PARTNER WHO IS AS PASSIONATE AS YOU ARE
There are many considerations when choosing a partner. As we’ve already noted, these will vary according to your specific business and project requirements. However, there is one overarching signifier when it comes to choosing the right partner for your project: their passion.
Does your potential partner really “get” your idea? Are they as excited as working on this project as you are? Ideally, when you pitch your idea to them, you want them to feel the same “wow” you do.
Of course, the best way to ensure potential partners feel the “wow” is to invest serious time and energy in a very good presentation and RFQ document for potential vendors. The Sigfox loT Agency can help you draw one up if you need help with this.
Delivering a good presentation to potential partners helps them to see the potential in your project. What you’re looking for, after the initial “wow, we love this!”, is that passion demonstrated in the breadth and quality of their response to your RFQ. Their documentation should demonstrate their commitment to working with you. Have they invested the time, right level of detail and energy in their reply that you are seeking?
If they do invest serious time and energy in their responses, it is a pretty good indicator that your potential partner “gets” what you want to do and is passionate about working with you on the project. In our experience, finding a partner who shares your passion is one of the most important indicators of success when choosing a potential partner. With this in mind, it is sometimes desirable that you work with two partners who are passionate about the project with complimentary skillsets. This may be preferable to working with one partner who has all necessary skillsets but doesn’t really “feel it” or believe in your project.
RISK #3: NOT HAVING AN EXIT STRATEGY
Finally, even if you are happy you have chosen a great partner, you need to ensure that you have an exit strategy from the partnership if you need one. Through your detailed specification and project brief, you should already have a good idea of where the risks are for each component and stage in the project.
With your partner, you need to clearly state the risks that relate to their element of the project and convert them into agreed project milestones. At each milestone, you and your partner must come together to review progress and assess progress, functionality, technology, ROI and any risk factors you have identified.
For each milestone, you need to agree and clearly state what you expect from your partner and what happens if any of those elements falls below acceptable levels. At each milestone, you need to have agreed exit strategy and you need to be prepared to action it if necessary.
It is never too late to turnaround. If you do action your exit strategy with a partner, you are left with the option of:
- either choosing another partner who can pick up where last left off,
- or, rather than disinvest entirely, choose another partner to support initial partner.
In some instances, choosing another partner who can support your existing partner might be preferable. Allowing your original partner and your new partner to work together ensures no project experience or product knowledge is lost. It creates the potential for learning and leaves the door open for better future collaboration with your original partner; after all, everyone wants to complete on the best terms.
To summarize, choosing a partner with the right technical skills and demonstrable functionality is important but passion and, if possible, experience is better. If you are struggling to find the partner you desire, speak with the Sigfox IoT Agency. We have the expertise and experience in handling IoT projects and can provide you access to many new potential partners, thanks to the breadth of the Sigfox partner ecosystem.