Five Things to Look for in a Sitecore Upgrade Partner

Over the last few years, a lot has changed with both the technology landscape as well as Sitecore as a whole. While navigating the path to Sitecore 10, we also found that a seismic shift in the overall solution landscape and architecture has changed. Years ago, we chose between whether we need XM or XP, and at what scale. Now we still have that option, but also a blur of SaaS based offerings that make our solution choices both more tailored and more complicated to navigate. Does classic XM or XM Cloud (XMC) fit better? SOLR based search, Sitecore Search, or both? XP or Personalize? Headless or standard? This is an excellent problem to have but puts even more emphasis than ever in picking the right partner for your project.


Expertise and Certification

First and foremost, it is important to ensure that your chosen partner has a team of certified professionals with the necessary expertise in the Sitecore offerings relevant to your project. Look for certifications in Sitecore Experience Platform (XP), Content Hub, CDP/Personalize, XM Cloud and other relevant tools. A partner with a significant investment in certified professionals demonstrates a commitment to understanding Sitecore's full capabilities. Additionally, inquire about the potential partners experience in handling challenges similar to yours. The ability to bring creative and effective solutions to the table is key to project success. Identifying a partner that demonstrates both the knowledge (certifications) and expertise (past experience) will help immensely in maximizing your project success.

Proven Track Record

Investigate the partner's portfolio and case studies. Look for examples of complex implementations, unique problem-solving approaches, tangible business outcomes and creative application of emerging technologies. Seek out client testimonials and refences to gain insights int the firm's working relationships, communication approach and post-implementation support. It's important that any perspective partner understand the real-world impact of the solution you are seeking and is able to give you confidence in their ability to deliver your project's objectives.

Agility and Tailored Solutions

As mentioned earlier - the technology world is rapidly changing. The advent of highly flexible "headless" systems is making the approaches simultaneously more flexible and more complex. It's important that you select a team with the agility to adapt to these changing factors and provide you with the best possible tailored solutions to meet your desired business outcomes. An agile partner can adjust their strategies to align with your organization's goals and evolving requirements, ensuring a solution that truly meets your needs, not just today but well into the future as well. Discuss their approach to customizations and how they have adapted to unique challenges in previous projects. Ensure they have a viewpoint on positive user experience outcomes and how to meld those with technology/platform architecture. Ensure that they can truly tailor an Enterprise solution to your specific scenario, not just dust off a repeat of what they did in the past.

Collaborative Approach

While it is important that your partner understands your business realm, required outcomes and general needs - there is a reality that nobody knows your business better than your team of stakeholders. This means that communication and collaboration throughout the process is absolutely key to true success. Look for indications of open communication, transparent processes, and a willingness to integrate seamlessly with your internal teams. Make sure you understand up front what their project management methodologies and communication protocols are. Find out how they handle potential roadblocks, even the best planned projects have a few at various points. A collaborative and successful partner will guide the whole process and provide technical subject matter expertise, but also actively involves your team in the decision-making process. Leveraging clear processes and communication protocols to foster a share sense of ownership and commitment to project success.

Support and Maintenance Services

Post-implementation support if often overlooked but is a critical aspect of a successful partnership. Your project doesn't end the day of launch, so it's critical that you select a partner that is committed to the long-term success of your implementation. Make sure that you understand what the partner's approach to handling ongoing support, maintenance and enhancements will be. Discuss the availability of a dedicated support team, response times and the process for handling updates and troubleshooting. Ensure that the partner team will provide proactive monitoring services and will take a proactive approach to detecting and resolving undesirable site behavior. Ensure that there are clear expectations regarding proactive support and keeping your Sitecore solution up-to-date with the latest features and security patches. Make sure that these factors are understood upfront ensures that your investment in your Sitecore based solution continues to yield benefits well beyond the initial implementation.

By exploring these aspects in greater detail, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of a Sitecore partner's capabilities, approach, and compatibility with your organization's goals.

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Steve Hamilton

Chief Technology Officer

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