As consumers we are completely spoiled for choice. There is so much on offer it is almost impossible to know whether you have made the right decision, especially if you don’t have a clear idea of exactly what you want to begin with.
This process is harder when it is not a product you are after, but a service, as you won’t know how effective the service is until you have already committed to (and paid for) it. In light of this, we have put our heads together and come up with a few pearls of wisdom to help guide you in your search for a Magento agency.
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, you need to know what you want from your agency. Without a clear idea in mind, it will be impossible to make the right decision as you have not considered all the different elements.
- What can the agency do for you?
- What do you want to achieve from the relationship?
Write a list of any questions you have for your prospective agency, if you don’t ask everything you need to at the start you risk asking it too far down the line when it is too late. This question asking should be reciprocal; if your agency has no questions this is a very bad sign. The more they ask the better, because it means that they are listening to you and are actually thinking ahead with the project.
Money, Money, Money
The other crucial thing to pin down from the start is your budget. If you don’t know what you want to spend, your agency can’t tell you what it can deliver.
- Money makes things more realistic, and will show your agency that you are serious with your intentions.
- Do some research to find out the going rate for certain services so you can come up with a realistic estimate; some cost more than you may realise.
Once these 2 things are decided, you can turn your attention to the agency itself. Have a thorough look through their previous work and their list of clients to see what they are really capable of delivering, and establish where their expertise lay. Prioritise what you want from your agency and try to find one who specialises in the area which needs most attention. For Magento you will want to see strong experience working in the eCommerce sector with proven results.
The Issues with Outsourcing
Find out whether they do everything in house. Outsourcing things like development can often end in disaster. This could also be a bad sign because it shows the agency is trying to cut corners; outsourcing is often the cheaper option and it means that there are no experts in your agency as they were not able to complete the work themselves. In house experts will spot problems long before they arise, whereas the outsourcing agency will only react to a problem once it is apparent.
The Cons of Cutting Corners
Keeping development in house is more expensive, as is adhering to best business practices, but as the saying goes, ‘you buy cheap you buy twice’. People often try to save money on their initial website build, only to have problems further down the line.
Fixing mistakes like this ends up costing more than just building a decent site in the first place, not to mention the interruption to your business caused by having your website closed for maintenance. Check what they use to host your website because as your business grows so will demand on your website, so it is important they use a platform like AWS which is fully scalable.
Project Planning & Management
Also investigate what processes they use to manage the project (e.g. Waterfall, Agile) and whether or not they have version control, which allows them to perform any changes easily.
Your website will no doubt change over time, and you want this to be done as cheaply and efficiently as possible. Without any version control measures in place, changes take longer and cost more.
Accepting a low-priced offer is not always the best way to go as it could potentially mean that they are compromising on quality else where. Most agencies offer more than just Magento services, so check what other expertise they have available in order to get the most out of the relationship.
Finally, remember this is a long term relationship, not a quick fling. The future of your business is at stake, and there is a lot of money involved in this decision. It should feel like you and your agency are in a partnership, and that they have your best interests at heart rather than simply seeing £ signs, offering you support and guidance along the way.
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