Some of the most important decisions you can take about your business relate to the information technology underpinning it.
Resolution IT’s Managing Director, Aneesh Pai, highlights the key areas to consider.
Today’s businesses cannot operate without IT and the underlying issue is not just about how to maintain your systems but also about how to develop, protect and future-proof them.
Additionally, companies are increasingly looking to technology to make themselves as efficient as possible and provide an edge over their competitors.
In turn, that means IT managers and company boards require ready access to the best, most up-to-date advice and support available.
So how do you obtain that?
Using an external IT consultancy is an obvious choice because it enables you to tap into a pool of highly-skilled, professionally-trained experts whose involvement with other organisations gives you access to wider experience and deeper knowledge whilst acting as your internal IT department. And that’s without mentioning partnering is a cost-effective relationship because you do not have the costs associated with employing staff.
It is, however, essential that you choose the right provider to ensure you actually see all the ultimate benefits of this approach.
Having a managed IT services partner as a trusted adviser, who cares about your brand values and becomes an extension of your business and is willing to commit to service level targets, has become crucial to the overall success of businesses.
And there are also other advantages to choosing a good technology provider.
These include providing leadership in the latest regulatory areas – such as information security and data protection – helping you to remain ahead of the curve by encouraging forward thinking. This includes managing risk, supporting good governance and compliance, and keeping you up to date with the latest technology and regulatory developments.
Above all, a trusted IT partner will give your company an IT strategy geared for success and not simply leave you reacting to changing circumstances.
The steps to choosing the right technology partner
There are several questions to ask to ensure you select the right IT partner to meet your business’s needs now and in the future. These hinge on undertaking full and thorough due diligence on a prospective technology provider and taking time to assess all your options.
You need to establish that your chosen partner:
- Has a fully staffed team which is approachable, technically proficient and capable of dealing with any IT issue you may have.
- Provides active account management with regular meetings to provide two-way feedback and advice on service level performance, latest information security and technology changes. Good IT partners spend a great deal of time listening and trying to understand your needs.
- Is open and transparent from the outset about what is included – and what’s not – in your support or managed service contract. It is often difficult to compare like for like so if you are paying a fixed fee you need to know what type of items may be classed as outside of your contract and are therefore chargeable. A responsible managed service provider will be able to itemise these. They should also be able to provide you with a regular utilisation report so both parties know exactly how the contract is working.
- Demonstrates good policies, procedures and corporate governance.
- Uses thorough staff security vetting and employs fit and suitable people to trust with access to your business-critical systems and confidential information.
- Is financially sound with acceptable levels of monetary commitments. They must be able to demonstrate robust business sustainability plans to meet these financial obligations, ensuring an uninterrupted support to you now and in the future.
- Can demonstrate an extensive list of IT partners, vendors and certifications. Talk to colleagues in other businesses about their experience with IT partners. Who do they recommend?
- Receives good references. Call out to colleagues who currently use the provider and get their feedback. Ask the provider for site references.
- Makes it easy to onboard and off-board. Moving to or from a new IT provider is often perceived as a difficult, lengthy and costly process. A reputable and professional provider should ensure this transition is seamless but it is vital to understand the process before making the transition, especially when cloud services are involved.
If your provider meets all these requirements, you then also need to know how it scores on providing the basics.
A proactive approach to ‘keeping the lights on’ must be a given. Your IT partner should be using state-of-the art software to continuously monitor what’s happening behind the scenes and adjusting your system to make sure it is in the best possible health. They should provide you with reports and statistics on system health and the work completed.
Regular system health checks and monthly, if not weekly, security patching should be the norm.
Customer service, including Help Desks, should be excellent; the team approachable and they should communicate well, giving you full confidence that your business is in excellent hands.
The benefits of getting it right
By choosing the right technology partner you will have full peace of mind and can focus more on other business opportunities. You will know that your vital systems are in the best of hands and that you have taken all possible steps to meet governance, security and data protection obligations.
You will also have a trusted adviser on hand when needed, one who shares the same vision and values as you and who can help future-proof your business.
In addition, you will have a team of skilled professionals ‘scanning the horizon’ on your behalf in an ever-changing world, minimising the risks while looking for opportunities for your business.
Selecting the best partner can take time – but it’s one decision you cannot afford to get wrong.