In this follow up to my previous article entitled, What to look for when choosing an IT provider, I want to highlight the advantages of selecting a company that can support your IT needs in a proactive partnership role, rather than just a tech company that sells you products and sends a service rep when you have problems. I would like to emphasize from the start that having a true IT partner that is willing to work closely with you to anticipate how your IT needs will change as your business evolves and expands, is as important as the functionality of the technology itself.
Why is the relationship between your business and your IT partner so important? Because nothing in this equation is static—everything is in a constant state of flux. Your customers’ needs, perceptions and expectations are always changing. Your business goals and processes are always changing. And technology, and all the speed, automation and efficiency that come from it is always changing. If your IT provider isn’t keeping a close eye on all aspects of your business, opportunities will be missed and your business will quickly fall behind. On the flipside, an IT partner with their finger on the pulse of your customers and your business, can identify ways to adapt and optimize technology to your advantage, allowing your business to remain on the leading edge and leverage every new opportunity.
Dedicated account managers
A quality IT partner will assign one or more dedicated account managers (depending on the size and complexity of your IT systems) to support your business’ dynamic IT needs. Good account management should go well beyond answering questions when you call and fixing problems after they occur. They should be monitoring issues and repair tickets to proactively identify problems and implement solutions. Your IT account managers should remain constantly involved and always up-to-speed on your business goals. You and your IT partner should have regular meetings and reviews to discuss what’s working and what’s not, and to look forward and plan for the future. The planning and adjusting is an ongoing process—there should never be a time when your IT provider shakes your hand and says, “Okay, we’re done here.”
Options and scalability
While being flexible and adaptive to change is important, no business has an unlimited budget to invest in every piece of new technology that comes along. Your IT partner should be an expert in the latest infrastructure and business technologies on the market, and also be aware of anticipated innovations and trends that haven’t hit the market. In an industry that changes so rapidly, IT expertise is critical for helping your business to prioritize its IT budget. Ideally, your partner is helping you build a plan that includes options and flexibility, and is scalable to accommodate business growth or other changes. Anytime my team is recommending an IT solution to a client, we generally try to offer at least three options then review, tweak and eventually break it down to “The Plan.”
The important takeaway here is that your IT partner is familiar enough with your business, your customers, your goals and your budget that they can take all critical aspects into consideration when designing and recommending IT options.
Accountability and responsibility
Is there anything more frustrating than having a problem, and then calling your provider to fix it (and waiting on hold for 10 minutes), only to have the people you called point the finger of blame to a different provider? When your IT infrastructure is made up of a hodgepodge of disparate solutions that come from different providers, it’s not uncommon for each provider to pass the buck to next one. Frequently no provider is willing to take accountability for problems or issues. I strongly recommend that you choose a single technology provider that can deliver a complete, one-stop solution across your organization, and will take absolute accountability for any problems that may arise. If you have a true IT partner that has assigned a dedicated account manager to your business, then you know exactly who to call; and you know that the issues at hand will be addressed immediately.
Shaun Olsen is the CEO and President of CloudWyze. CloudWyze was created to help businesses focus and perform at their optimal level by crafting and executing custom technology plans for businesses of every type and size. To learn more about CloudWyze, visit www.cloudwyze.com. Shaun can be reached at [email protected] or 910-795-1000.
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