8th December 2020
NearForm has been recognised as an APN Select Consulting Partner, and we’ve discovered some valuable insights in the process.
NearForm’s AWS architects and engineers have years of experience building and deploying AWS solutions for our customers, and it’s been exciting watching these customers progress as they migrate to the cloud. With this wealth of experience in the company, it made sense to gain recognition for all that work and leverage the benefits by registering with the AWS Partner Network (APN).
The APN is a worldwide partner program for technology and consulting businesses that use AWS to build solutions and services for customers. It is a valuable source of business, technical and marketing resources for building and marketing AWS offerings, so we were delighted to be approved as an APN Select Consulting Partner. This means we join an elite group of highly experienced professional services firms who help customers design, architect, build, migrate and manage cloud solutions built on AWS.
The process of becoming a Select Consulting Partner took time and commitment. It also taught us some valuable lessons, including the following three standouts.
Lesson 1: Evidence is as important as experience — and it can surprise you
We knew we had the skills and experience to become an APN partner, but we needed to gather the evidence. One experience requirement for approval as a Select Partner is a minimum of three “launched opportunities”, meaning projects deployed for AWS customers. These opportunities can include different kinds of engagements, including upselling to existing AWS customers or extending AWS adoption to new customers.
Recording our AWS client projects involved delving deep into some key experiences we have had designing, building and deploying cloud solutions for customers. We tracked these opportunities through to go-live and discovered some fascinating insights into the benefits we had delivered along the way.
One example was our work with Skycatch, an aerial intelligence platform for the global mining and construction industries. The team at Skycatch needed to accelerate the development of some of their core analytical tools, so they enlisted our help to boost the efforts of their exceptionally skilled in-house engineering team.
Engineers from both NearForm and Skycatch worked in partnership to deliver technology that would facilitate swift, efficient development, including AWS native services, cloud-based build pipelines and container orchestration through Kubernetes.
Commenting on the experience, Skycatch Vice President of Engineering Reza Hajebi said that NearForm’s ability to continually add top talent to the team at short notice “allowed us to supplement our own resources and respond effectively and quickly to customer change requests.”
Skycatch had set aggressive goals, and they needed a team whose competency matched theirs to achieve those objectives within a limited timeframe. As Data Hub Product Owner Patrick Stuart pointed out, Skycatch needed people who could move at a very fast pace while building advanced technology, and NearForm’s “world-class team easily adapted to our pace to get the job done within our tight deadline.”
This kind of feedback not only provided the evidence we needed to show AWS, it also delivered valuable insights on the actual benefits we provide for our customers.
Lesson 2: Certifications matter
To meet the knowledge requirement for the APN Select tier, we needed at least four APN-accredited individuals and four AWS-certified individuals on the team. It’s tempting to look at certifications as nice-to-haves, badges to put on a website to make an organisation look more professional. However, we discovered that the process of working to achieve these certifications added to our capabilities as a team.
We built the certifications into our internal training plan, giving everyone a broader view of the variety of AWS services available and delving deeper into lesser-known product details at more advanced levels. This kind of learning is truly valuable and may not have been scoped into our training and development were we not required to gain the certifications.
All the developers surveyed after achieving AWS certification agreed that preparing for it deepened their understanding of the AWS ecosystem. By dedicating time to understanding the full AWS landscape, they went from focusing on the specific elements of AWS needed for a particular task to developing a richer, broader understanding of the range of options available for various uses.
As one developer said, “even if you develop applications on AWS, the certifications provide an opportunity to more deeply explore their ecosystem.”
Now, in addition to industry-recognised qualifications to showcase our AWS expertise, we also have a richer knowledge of the platform offerings and are better equipped to include these in architectural designs and recommendations for our customers.
Lesson 3: Feedback is more than just a pat on the back
Everyone likes to be appreciated, but positive feedback is not just about feeling good. By going through this process, we learned that it also gives meaningful insights into what you’re doing well and helps you maintain strong customer relationships post-delivery.
To meet the customer success requirement for APN Select Partner status, we needed to cite one publicly referenceable customer and five customer satisfaction (CSAT) responses. Requesting feedback from clients on their experiences working with us was a real eye-opener.
When asked whether they would recommend NearForm or not, the customers we asked gave uniformly positive responses. Of course, this kind of news is always encouraging, but we were struck by the aspects of our service that stood out for our customers.
For example, one client (who we helped to migrate container-based applications into AWS EKS) highlighted our responsiveness, diligence, professionalism and friendliness, saying that the NearForm team “have been committed to help us succeed from the beginning.”
Another described our team’s core as “bright, fast and focused on delivery.”
Others cited our willingness “to listen to feedback and the needs of clients” and our skill at “adapting solutions to deliver the business value.” With another client praising our engineers’ ability to “not only implement but also educate our teams,” we were left with a more clearly defined picture of who we are as a company.
We always knew we had great talent at NearForm, and now we are even more keenly aware of our team’s unique ability to adapt quickly to new challenges and deliver optimal solutions swiftly and collaboratively. Not only do our people devise the best solutions to clients’ problems, they also educate our customers so that they can extract maximum benefit from their technology.
Continuing to learn
In sharing our company story with AWS, we gained valuable insights into ourselves and our clients. In turn, being recognised as an APN Select Consulting Partner reassures customers and future prospects that their cloud projects are in good hands.
The process has been a valuable learning experience — but we’re not finished yet. Having unlocked the benefits and programs of Select partnership, we are now preparing to move to the Advanced tier of APN partnership. That means increasing our specialisation in a particular AWS area, meeting a new set of requirements for knowledge, experience and customer success, and developing a validated Partner business plan.
We are hugely grateful to the clients who provided the testimonials and work references needed for approval as an APN Select Consulting Partner. As we move toward the Advanced tier of APN partnership, we look forward to reinforcing our client relationships and learning even more.