When Do I Start Looking for an Integrator?

Early is best. While it makes no sense to look for an integrator before you select the tool (since you want to choose an integrator that's experienced with the particular tool you are choosing to get the experience benefits described above), you don't want to get all the way to the tool purchase without having evaluated integrators in parallel. You don't want to find yourself in the very unpleasant situation of having spent good money on a tool that you cannot implement because you cannot find anyone good to do it for you, or, worse, having to go with a sub-optimal integrator so you get a sub-optimal solution. As shown in Screenshot, start collecting suggestions for integrators as you get seriously interested in a tool during the tool evaluation phase. Your long list of integrator candidates should be ready as you finalize the short list for the tool vendors. Evaluate the integrator candidates while you negotiate the tool contract and aim to finalize the choice of the integrator as you are finalizing the tool purchase or shortly afterwards. This schedule will allow you to get going with the implementation quickly. Also, if your evaluation of the integrator candidates is not fruitful, you will know that before you complete the tool purchase so you can re-evaluate the tool selection itself and avoid ending up with expensive shelfware.

Screenshot Scheduling Tool Selection and Integrator Selection in Parallel

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