Choosing the Right Third-Party Programming Partners

3/4/2014 6:31:00 PM
There are many ways to run your business and build scale. As an owner, you can hire more staff, pay overtime to existing employees, use “spot labor” (hourly people you pay only when needed), or outsource various roles. For programming our control systems, I have chosen to go the outsourced route.

Pictures provided by Crestron and Programming design by Rich Fregosa from Fregosa Design.
While I personally am capable of programming the systems we install, I’ve learned that my time is better spent generating new business and building client relationships (working “on” my business, not “in” my business.) Having outsourced this particular role in my company, I’ve learned that the third party can have a huge impact on my reputation when it comes to hitting deadlines and providing a high-quality end product.

Here are five steps that I have followed to hire the right programming partners:

Conduct a Job Interview
Treat this partnership as you would an employee/employer relationship. You need to ensure a fit, not just in skills and abilities, but also in personality, work ethic, and goals. You may have a hard-driving business culture. If so, you should make sure your partner has the same energy. If you partner with someone that prefers a more subdued work-life balance, but you don’t work that way, you will be disappointed in their results. Ask questions regarding hours, willingness to travel, work style, turnaround times, capacity for jobs, etc. Are they a one-man band or a larger company? Not that one is better than the other, but just know what you want/need and be sure to ask the right questions

Review Their Work
You would ever hire a marketing firm without seeing projects that they’ve done for prior clients? You shouldn’t hire someone as line a programmer without seeing their level of work. You may not get the actual program from them, as this is their intellectual capital, but you should be able to get screen shots and photos of their work

As for Price Sheets
While this seems obvious, you’d be surprised how many people interview a partner and don’t ask for pricing until they are putting together a proposal and realize the pricing structure doesn’t work with their business model.

Understand what certifications your chosen control company requires of its programmers, and what other manufacturer or industry association certifications might apply. Request and be sure you receive a full list of all certifications that your programming partner has and be sure they meet your requirements.

Know Their Hours of Operation
Be sure that your partners have hours that work for you. How do they handle after-hours service calls to fix issues a client is having two hours before the big game or Oscar night? What if the install goes a little long and you need them to wrap up the programming at 8:00 p.m.? If they are in a different time zone, how do they handle that?

Working with partners is a great way to scale your business without expanding your overhead. If you take the right steps and make sure you have a great fit, it can be a great relationship for both parties.

If anyone is looking for a great Crestron programmer, send me an email and I’ll share my recommendation.
+Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.



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