Three ways to tell whether your IT provider is just an overhead or a strategic partner

1. Ensure they can articulate their plan to gain an understanding of your strategic goals and business model so that IT investment is fully aligned

Cautionary tale: this IT provider didn’t understand how their client’s business worked

One firm of asset managers had always seen IT as a utility and did all their complex analysis and reporting on Excel.  Having ‘broken Excel’ for the umpteenth time, with their massive spreadsheets, they concluded they needed a BI tool and some machine learning algorithms to run their business better.

Although he was time-poor and lacking a technology background, the chief operating officer took it on himself to find a solution. His decision to go it alone was fuelled by a lack of confidence that his current technology provider would be able to help.  He didn’t see them as sector experts, didn’t have confidence that they understood the nuances of his requirements so didn’t even bother talking to them about it.

Sadly, his team wasted time and money on the wrong solution. As he later reflected,

“We had the wrong IT provider onboard, I needed someone to work alongside me to find and implement new innovative technology into my business (as well as do the nuts and bolts)”

COO, Asset Management

2. Be certain they’ve identified exactly how they will help you with IT budgeting and resource allocation to achieve your growth targets

Cautionary tale: this IT provider didn’t get the importance of rapid response in a new business situation

Clients and prospects often need evidence and assurance that you have in place compliance, regulatory and cyber-security policies and procedures.   Your IT provider should be able to provide the people or documentation quickly and cost effectively. As one unhappy individual bemoaned,

“I had to stop working with our previous IT outsourcer on new business opportunities as they were too slow to produce the evidence we needed to do business.  I don’t expect to have to go to market to find expert solutions myself when this is key part of our business model. They should have been advising me and providing this service.”

Finance Director, global sales and marketing agency

3. Get them to provide examples of how and what they will report to show how investment in IT is delivering growth in EBITDA

Cautionary tale: this IT provider saddled their client with a contract that left their technology in the Ark

For another, a professional services firm, their incumbent IT outsource would not move them to a new Citrix environment because of the cost involved in getting the work done. Which if held to the terms of the contract was the partner’s responsibility.

The old Citrix system didn’t support dual screens and didn’t work well across multiple locations. When they opened a new office, they couldn’t collaborate seamlessly across their offices. So productivity took a big hit and stopped them opening new offices and growing their business. In their case, the lack of strategic support from the IT partner was holding back their growth plans.

What most businesses need is a service provider that acts as a CIO and can provide additional bandwidth to your in-house experts.  If you’ve got an IT provider that only just about keeps the lights on, it might be time to think about a change.

When you’re ready to make the move, the three key things to look for in a new provider are:

  • What is their plan to make sure your organisation is investing in the best technology solutions to deliver your business goals?
  • Don’t get fobbed off with a junior account manager, demand that you have a quarterly strategic meeting to review your business priorities and help you plan for the future  
  • If your IT feels tired and outdated, make sure your contract stipulates that it is the IT providers responsibility to ensure your IT remains as fresh and relevant in 3-5 years as it is today

How to improve your IT Performance?

In a previous post ‘Three ways to guarantee you get great service from your IT provider”, I mused on the frustrations I’ve encountered regarding quality of service.   In this piece I hope I’ve shown how lack of strategic direction from an IT provider, negatively impacted some businesses and why this forced them to move to Bedroq.  

We see ourselves as an IT Performance Management business, we review the current performance of IT in our clients’ businesses and provide clear steps to improve it.  Strategic alignment is just one of the Seven Rocks we believe are fundamental to having a robust technology framework.  If you’re in any doubt as to the IT strategic roadmap your current provider is following, let us run a short diagnostic to identify areas of improvement.

Get in touch with Mark Flynn, [email protected]; 07948 611697