Who is your current IT partner?
Does your company enjoy a productive Business and IT partnership? Companies who align with the right IT partner have a strategic advantage over those lacking this vital relationship. For sure, choosing a top performance IT partner is a necessary step toward developing a strategic advantage over your competition. The right IT partner can help you define a technology road-map to business success.
We intend this article to provide you with understanding of the important characteristics of a good IT partnership. Further, we aim to describe how aligning with an IT MSP as a partner can help you transform your business into a market segment leader.
Does Your IT Partner Understand Your Business
When choosing your IT partner, you need to consider their ability deliver what your company needs. A wide range of IT MSP companies can deliver canned solutions, and likely at a relatively cheap price. However, canned solutions do not provide the customization a business needs to enhance compete with the best. Your IT partnership should deliver a customized technology road-map to help your company leverage its strengths. In order to provide this level of service, your IT partner needs to understand your value drivers and your business workflow.
Value Drivers: Does your IT partner understand the value drivers of your industry and your business? This essential knowledge helps your IT partner to develop profit bearing solutions.
Business and Operational Workflow: Your IT partner must understand your business workflow in detail in order to build efficiently running IT systems. They need to know how your operational and administrative systems best function and how to ensure efficient interface between these two systems. Does data and information flow smoothly between departments and functions in your company?
Business and Operational Objectives: How well do your IT systems help your company deliver on your objectives? You should have no hesitation describing how your IT partner supports delivery of your business objectives. If this is not the case, you may benefit from an independent systems assessment by a competent IT MSP.
Strategic Assessment of Business and IT Systems
In a true Business and IT partnership, both entities work together to develop and implement Business and IT strategy. The strategy will clearly align with your company’s value drivers and business and operational objectives. This will position your company with a strategic advantage over your competition.
In addition to understanding your business, however, a good IT partner also needs to be well versed in their trade. Below are a few indicators that your partner possesses the competencies necessary to help your business succeed.
Your IT Partner:
- Knows how to utilize IT to enhance operational efficiency specific to your operating environment.
- Understands how to design a system to accommodate growth and shifts in demand.
- Understands how IT solutions can help you expand your business.
- Can help you forecast technology changes. They will ensure your systems development strategy allows feasible and economical updating to remain competitive.
Equipped with this knowledge base and skill sets, your IT partner can help you build a technology road-map to success.
Awareness of Evolving IT Issues
Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. You probably do not have time to stay abreast of all of the changes, and to determine which you need to respond to. A true Business and IT Partnership can free you from this resource consuming distraction, leaving you free to focus on your primary business workflow. This aspect of your Business and IT partnership enables the transformation for which you aim.
A good IT business partner will remain aware of emerging technologies. They have a good understanding of your business and a vested interest in helping you achieve your business goals. They can provide you with advice about how emerging technologies can impact your business. Additionally your IT partner will ensure effective integration of applications affected by system upgrades. This partnership will help your company remain competitive as the business and technology landscape continues to evolve.
Your IT partner will also remain up to date with knowledge of current and looming cybersecurity threats and solutions. They will take a proactive approach, making relevant cybersecurity updates to your system in manner least disruptive to your business workflow. If a threat becomes and attack, a solid IT partner will provide a rapid solution, limiting your company’s downtime.
When your IT systems experiences problems that prevent you from performing critical business functions, you need the problem fixed ASAP. The standard performance expectation is 24/7 functional IT support for critical problem resolution. You should expect nothing less from your IT business partner.
Can Your (Prospective?) IT Partner Deliver?
Many IT MSPs claim they have the capability to deliver. But to what standard can they deliver? If you want to partner with the best, you need verify your prospective partner’s ability to deliver:
- Ask your potential IT partner to describe how their company will help you formulate a strategy for success. Listen carefully to their explanation and check whether the explanation makes sense, considering your company’s value drivers and business workflow.
- Following on from the strategy discussion, ask how they envision a technology road-map to success for your company. You may receive very general answers at this point. If this happens, ask for some details, even if based on a set of hypothetical circumstances. You need to know that your potential IT provider understands how systems work beyond strategy and into operations.
- Ask your potential IT partner for case histories where they have designed and implemented systems similar to what they have described. Ask for verification and/or references to back up their claims.
If the company making the pitch truly has the wherewithal to help you transform your business, they should have no problem providing answers to these questions. You need to achieve comfort with their capabilities before forming a business and IT partnership with them.
Who Do You Want as Your IT Partner?
Perhaps you already have a contract with an IT MSP. Do you see evidence that your IT service provider possesses the capabilities described in this article? If not, you should consider whether they are the company you need as your IT partner.
Custom Information Services (CustomIS.com) can provide consultation to help you evaluate your IT system and develop a technology road-map to success. In addition to strategic support, CIS offers functional and technical IT support services on demand. This option connects you with industry expertise, available when you need it, at a fraction of the cost of maintain full time staff.