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A Guide to Getting the Most from Your Technology Partner: Mistakes to Avoid and Fixes to Implement


Sporting image

The Sports industry is digitally evolving. But despite advances in the technology available to us, many of the challenges remain the same. I’ve operated a sports-focused tech agency for over a decade and still see many common mistakes. This guide outlines how to get more from your tech partners and build stronger relationships between sports organisations and service providers.


6 Barriers to your digital transformation

  1. Dictating requirements

  2. Mistrust of the process

  3. Impatience in laying foundations

  4. Lack of planning for flexibility

  5. Exclusively aiming for scale

  6. Underestimating support


1. Don’t dictate requirements, collaborate.


Trust is everything. If you don’t trust your tech partner, you need to find one you do. Have an open mind and prioritise getting to know each other upfront. Invest strategically in building a solid foundational relationship with your partner and prioritise consultancy.


Identify and share your desired outcomes. It’s then your partner’s job to help define how you’ll get there. Leave that detail to the expert. Ditch the defined tender process and focus on finding the right provider through their core values.


You don’t tell your chef how to cook your meal, what ingredients to use or how hot the pan should be. You don’t show your electrician how to wire your house or tell them what connectors to use. They know best and you trust their expertise.


2. Trust the process


Agree on the objectives of your project brief collaboratively with your tech partner. There’s no need for you to write the technical specification, that’s their job. Let your tech partner define the process and implement the checks needed to achieve the quality you are looking for.


If you see red flags, be honest and open about it. Ask questions of your tech provider but trust the responses and expertise they give you back. Create KPIs based on real-world performance and remember you’re measuring the outcome, not how you get there.


Your mechanic knows the steps of changing your tyres. They have done it a thousand times on a thousand vehicles. They have the process down and they’re good at it. Your technology partner is the mechanic of your digital platform, let them do their thing.


Mobile sports content


3. Start with foundations


Be prepared to honestly assess the state of your current technology, digital platforms, data and approach with help from your technology partner. Building in the digital world isn’t unlike the physical world: your website is ultimately electricity moving around physical web servers across the globe.


Make sure you take the time and attention to lay robust foundations that make it easier and more effective to build on top of in the future. Doing the groundwork in the early days pays dividends over time. Often we’ll undertake entire projects of getting the foundations right.


We all want quick wins, but be realistic with your expectations and understand there are steps you possibly hadn’t ever considered. Tall trees need wide-spreading roots and skyscrapers have deep dependable foundations.


4. Scale sideways as well as up


Once you’ve got a solid starting point, work with your tech provider to make your technology reliable and sustainable. Well-built technology doesn’t just grow bigger, it’s able to connect to other services, it’s well-documented, it’s accessible and it’s streamlined.


Your digital platforms must be stable and your audience should be able to use your systems wherever they are in the world without issues. This sounds simple but often takes careful consideration, planning and execution.


Your users expect simplicity, but digital platforms are complicated. Making complicated things intuitive, simple and a pleasure to use takes mastery. Michelin star meals don’t usually have hundreds of ingredients, they’re simple, but they are done to perfection, and crafted with skill.


5. Plan for flexibility


Budgeting for scope creep in a project will mean fewer surprises and give you the wiggle room you want as the client. Instead of asking your technology provider what your project will cost, consider committing to a budget and amount of time while asking ‘How do we use this most effectively to move towards our agreed objectives?’.


Engaging in a recurring subscription to your technology partner’s services is a great way to ensure access to their ongoing expertise and resources as your mission and objectives evolve. This approach also lets you plan and prioritise your wishlist for future functionality and features.


You are managing demanding stakeholders and it’s OK to change your mind. You will learn along the journey and you’ll have some great new ideas on the way. Make sure you create space and a commitment to encourage creativity and allow changes to your requirements.


6. Invest in support services


Digital platforms are living, breathing entities made up of different layers all running on physical infrastructure, and they need looking after. Just like servicing your car, your tech partner should run regular maintenance on your platforms to make sure they are up-to-date, secure and running smoothly.


Similar to breakdown cover, they should also provide assured Service Level Agreements for when things don’t go exactly as they should. And like all good mechanics, your tech provider is best placed to make recommendations on how to run your vehicle smoothly for years to come.


If your website is the car, the internet is the road, and every day of every month, that road keeps changing. AI is about to electrify and supercharge that motorway too. Make room to embrace and engage the changing landscape.


Conclusion


The digital world is complex, and it's not getting any simpler. While you're mastering your field, you need a tech partner who's doing the same in theirs. The strongest partnerships are built on mutual trust, expertise, and a willingness to learn from one another.


Remember, your tech partner isn't just a service provider; they're your co-pilot on this digital journey. By fostering a collaborative relationship and being clear on your objectives, you'll save both time and money. And most importantly, you'll set yourself up for better outcomes, now and in the future.


Lou Fargeot is the co-founder and director of We Are Sweet.

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