As IT demands grow, many businesses find themselves in need of a little support. In some instances, this support can be minimal where only an occasional helping hand is needed, for when you really don’t feel like setting up that new PC yourself. Other times it can be the outsourcing of part or even all of your IT operations. Whatever the case, you may be browsing the Tinder of support providers (no that doesn’t exist..yet) or you may wonder if you have made the right choice of IT partner.
The following points highlight some of the values you should be looking for in a partner (long walks on the beach not included):
- Honesty (Reporting and SLAs) – If you are paying a support vendor to take over some tasks within your business, you’ll want to be able to measure their progress. How will you know if they are doing their job? Are there areas for improvement? A support vendor should work with you to define a service level agreement that is satisfactory and provide reporting to that SLA to demonstrate their value. In conjunction with this reporting is honesty. If the reports don’t look good and SLAs aren’t being met, your partner should be upfront about it. While we’re at it, why would they wait until report time to tell you that they aren’t tracking so well. Honesty is critical to establishing trust.
- Regular Contact/Communication – This one is common for all relationships. If there is minimal communication then it is doomed to fail. You should be able to set an expectation of the communication level required and your partner should work to that. You may not want to be woken up in the middle of the night for something minor, that’s our job, however, you should be given ongoing open dialogue on how your IT environment is operating and what proactive steps are being taken to remediate any issues.
- Experience – Choosing a support partner with experience will certainly make your life easier. These providers will have dealt with other businesses similar to your own. They will be familiar with compliance and regulatory requirements for your industry. They will have established processes and procedures. An experienced provider will also bring IT maturity. They can help you develop your own processes and procedures across not just IT, but your entire organisation, providing a governance framework to ensure you are getting the best value from your IT while aligning to industry best practices.
- Proactiveness – This is a simple one. If your partner is not being proactive, what are you paying them for? They should be taking action to prevent issues from occurring in your environment and generally keeping their finger on the ‘technology pulse’ to help you make the right decisions for the future. Proactiveness doesn’t just apply to support issues either. It can cover other areas such as upcoming organisational or regulatory changes, industry best practices, trends and budget forecasts.
- Trusted Advisor/Extension of Business – When you look at the big picture, you are asking a third party company to take over some or all of the IT within your business. In return, you should expect to be able to trust them to provide guidance, advice and even training to help your business grow. After all, they don’t grow if you don’t grow. The right partner will become a trusted advisor who can help you set your IT strategy and provide a roadmap to assist you in achieving your business objectives and maybe even turn IT into a competitive advantage.
So there it is. A non-exhaustive list of some of the things to look for in an IT partner. Whilst you may not be ready to hand it all over tomorrow, or you may be already be ‘taken’, keep these things in mind to ensure you are getting the most out of your IT provider.Â Whether you’re ready to â€œswipe rightâ€ or if you’re already in a relationship and need an unbiased review of your provider our team are always available for a coffee to discuss your needs.