Finding an Adobe Experience Manager Solution Partner

February 02, 2022
Principal Architect

Your organization has recently made the strategic decision to invest in Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). It wasn't an easy journey to get here - all the internal discussions, stakeholder negotiations, and proof points, and of course finally securing the budget. Now the hard work begins - and if you haven't already chosen an implementation partner, you are likely actively looking for a partner to help you maximize the value of your investment.  

Who you choose is up to you. How you come to that decision is something I'd like to offer some guidance on based on my experience in aiding our clients both starting from scratch and sometimes, jumping in mid-stream to save the day.

The truth is that you need to do some research and you need to ask the right questions. Here are some tips and questions to be aware of when selecting a consulting firm to implement AEM. 

Tip One: Define Your Goals

You will most likely want someone to implement your AEM site, but think about what your business needs are from the implementation. Will you need help defining a governance model? Will you need assistance learning the details of how AEM works? Do you already understand what’s necessary to ensure your site will live through tomorrow and next year, or will you need help? Are there specific capabilities you are looking to utilize? Start the process by defining exactly what type of assistance you need. You’re looking for results, so be clear on what your expectations are.

Tip Two: Adobe Partnerships

One of the first questions you should be asking anyone offering to be an implementation partner is, “Are you an Adobe partner?” Why is this important? Firms partnered with Adobe are held to certain standards and are more likely to be familiar with Adobe’s best practices. Partners are also more likely to have the latest information on AEM updates and innovations. This knowledge helps them to plan your web presence for the future. 

You should also be aware that there are different levels of Adobe partnerships. Ranging from Community Partners up to Platinum Partners, the higher the level the higher the partnership standards become. Platinum Partners, for example, are required to hold at minimum four specialization areas and 10 successful cloud deployments.

Tip Three: Look at Experience

You shouldn’t shy away from asking for a list of clients and a list of references; after all, you’re about to spend a lot of money. I have worked with several clients that are more than happy to discuss their experiences with someone who is thinking of using the same firm. This may be a short conversation, but this conversation could save you tons of money and quite a few headaches. Certification (partnership level) again is important, as this reflects on the experience the partner has.

Tip Four: Get to Know The Consultancy Firm

Whichever firm you choose you will be spending a lot of time with them. Ensure that during the process of selection that you speak to more than salespeople. Make sure you’re speaking to people who would be doing the work and express your feelings about what you think the AEM platform should accomplish. You have a long road ahead of you and you need to travel together. Highlighting specific pain points you have encountered, for example, will help the consultancy firm put an accurate roadmap in place. 

Tip Five: Read the Fine Print

You will most likely be presented with a proposal. Read this document carefully and make sure everything you listed as a goal is in there. You don’t want any details missed at this point of the relationship. Part of this proposal will of course include cost estimates. Look at these as you compare firms, but I urge you to look and compare carefully. Judging purely on cost alone without understanding the details of what is being included could hurt you in the long run. 

Remember that cheaper isn’t always the better choice. You have already spent a lot of money on AEM, you don’t want to have to spend more money hiring a second firm to fix what the first one didn’t accomplish. If you receive bids that are drastically different, I would urge you to ask why. The higher bid may be due to underlying knowledge that the lower bidder may not be aware of, such as an issue in the platform or past experience that has led to additional time being needed. A few things to look for in the proposal are post-deployment support, content migrations, and training.

Tip Six: Understand their Approach

It’s important that you know what happens on day one of your project. Will everything be created from scratch or will the vendor provide you with code accelerators with patterns already defined? How will they get to understand your specific needs? How will you validate that they understand your needs before they start developing your site? It’s okay to ask them how they do this; they should be familiar with the process and should be able to explain it to you. 

Making an Educated Decision

Selecting the right firm to partner with for AEM implementation can be a daunting endeavor. Knowing the right questions to ask when deciding on a consultancy firm is essential to making an educated decision on who to choose.