Only great implementation can bring great software to life, which means that business and technology leaders need their service providers and software vendors to work brilliantly together. You need them both to sit at the table when you’re making a decision or negotiating a contract, or you risk a “he said-she said” disconnect.

That’s always been a challenge, but in today’s cloud-hosted, rapidly digitizing software industry, the dynamics of the software/service provider partnership look more like a colliding Venn diagram than a clean handoff (see first figure). To make a smarter decision on software, cloud, and service provider, bring everybody to the table at the same time. Once you’ve established that, ask these tough questions of the collective (see second figure).