Part of any successful partnership is a shared understanding and clear communication. But often, things get lost in translation. What one party hears and what the other party means may not be the same, and this can easily happen in the world of IT where there are many foreign terms thrown around (like what is a switch? Or a port? Why do these matter?). Worse, sometimes your IT team thinks they’re being clear in their communications, but they’re still using a lot of terms that can be confusing.
Let’s arm you with some strategies to make sure you’re in a healthy, happy relationship with your IT partner.
Building the Right Foundation
The foundation for any successful partnership is knowing what your needs are and clearly communicating them. This doesn’t mean you have to know what that means for your IT. Your IT team should be able to translate business objectives into technology that will facilitate your ideal results. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Do you have an IT person on your team that just needs a little help from time to time? A break/fix setup is likely the ideal situation for your needs. With this, it’s important to clearly outline and understand what your IT team will be doing vs what you’ll need to handle internally. Failure to do this can cause a lot of frustration for both parties, so communication here is key.
- Are you looking to grow your business? You’ll want a team that focuses on strategic partnerships and building a roadmap to get your business set up for success. This roadmap includes an implementation schedule built around your budget so that technology upgrades are more feasible and predictable.
- Do you need a custom-tailored service that suits your exact needs? Maybe you don’t need the full package, or what we refer to as the Cadillac service of the IT world. That’s okay. Find a provider who is comfortable customizing your services while also doing their due diligence to protect your business and enhance your productivity.
- Are you in need of help but facing budget constraints? A good IT provider will help you roadmap which services and products are an immediate need vs what you can prepare for down the road. Finding someone to work with your budget is crucial here.
- How much reporting do you want on your IT work? Feedback and transparency are important, but everyone prefers communication at a different rate. Do you want weekly updates? Major project milestone updates? Monthly? Quarterly? Determine what works best for your goals and business model and communicate this to your IT provider.
Collaborate with peers to determine what other things are important for maintaining a healthy partnership and bring this to your IT team to discuss.
Be open to feedback.
Your IT team will likely have ideas for the best implementation strategy. They can be scaled back from there. However, recognize that it is their job to make the best recommendations that optimize profitability, minimize risk, and maintain security. What may seem like an exorbitant expense or a menial task may make the difference between having a security breach or not. You should be in an IT relationship where you trust your team to take the best care of your business. If this isn’t the case, it’s time for a conversation.
Know the importance of your needs.
Not only is it crucial to know what you need, but having an idea of their level of importance will enable your IT team to provide the best guidance. Best rule of thumb? Overcommunicate. Your IT team’s strategy is only as good as the information you can provide. While they will have an army of diagnostic tools and other methods to look at your physical network, they can’t know what’s important in your day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month unless you tell them.
When considering all the needs of your business, don’t try to take this on yourself. Delegate to your employees. Have them tell you what their everyday pain points are, what their goals are, what they might need to achieve outcomes faster. By doing this, you can best represent your company’s full needs when you meet with your IT partner.
Drop the price-mindset.
If price is the only factor you consider when looking at your IT team, we’re going to exercise a few words of caution:
- Price can be an indicator of quality. We’ve seen firsthand what happens when price is the main driver. Too often, much is left to be desired when it comes to functionality, security, and efficiency. In IT, you truly get what you pay for, which is risky considering that business is largely digitized and hackers are only getting smarter.
- Price-focused relationships tend to cause a high level of dissatisfaction for both parties. You may start to wonder what you’re paying for, and your IT team likely feels frustrated because they want to provide more for your business but are limited by cost.
This type of set up is sort of like going to the doctor with a serious wound, not wanting to pay for stitches, so they put a band-aid on it and send you home. You’re unhappy with your level of care and they’re unhappy knowing they didn’t do everything they could.
However, it would be naive not to address sticker shock. This happens frequently in the managed services realm. And we get that. Every business needs to remain profitable and reduce overhead. This is where cost-benefit analysis and your business come in handy. Only you can ultimately decide what’s strategically critical for your business. Communicate openly and clearly with your IT provider to see if you can work together to come up with a feasible solution.
Life is a lot easier when you and your IT provider are on the same page.
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