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Your outsourced IT provider: Expectations vs Reality … expect more!

Outsourcing of business IT requirements is becoming increasingly widespread, with advantages ranging from reduced stress, cost savings, and ongoing access to competent professionals with skills you simply don’t have in-house.

If you’ve had limited experience of using an external IT service provider, or have been with the same outfit for a significant length of time, your expectations might not necessarily align with the realities of how this important strategic partnership should work.

The biggest thing to consider when selecting your IT provider is their commitment to strategic thinking and proactivity. It would be easy to assume that your IT partner knows exactly what you need, which could lead to the placing of all IT decisions – from the minor to the strategic – into their hands. A large cohort of these providers believe they exist simply to react and resolve your immediate IT issues as they arise. Essentially, they get to come in and play the hero as they get you back up and running and help you avert disaster! As a result, a client might believe this is simply the service they’re paying for.

Ensuring unexpected technical problems don’t result in costly downtime is, of course, an important function. However, this really is just a ‘keep the lights on’ approach, and a sign that your provider is possibly just going through the motions. Sure, they might be putting out fires for you today, but are they working to ensure those fires don’t reignite in the future?

In reality, your IT provider should be proactive in their approach. They should demonstrate a commitment to identifying opportunities to improve your network over the long-term. They should be thinking six months to a year ahead. Beyond that, they should have a long-term plan that will offer continual improvements to your IT operations.

Communication & Relationships

For that reason, developing a close and communicative relationship with your provider is vital to ensure you’re getting the best out of the relationship. The expectation that you only communicate when there’s a problem does not match with reality. Your provider should become a trusted extension of your own team. A willingness to engage in an ongoing, open dialogue where ideas for long-term improvements to your IT infrastructure are discussed, is a sign that your provider is invested in the success of your business. It shows they appreciate the fundamental role technology (and their use of it) can play in enabling efficiency, productivity and profitability 

This brings us neatly to the issue of communication, another area where expectations don’t always necessarily reflect reality. We all know clear, regular and consistent communication between two remotely working teams is crucial. Where a provider isn’t offering the constant flow of information you might expect, the relationship cannot be strengthened, and outcomes are likely to be weaker as a result. The reality is the best relationships between client and IT provider are based on clear and timely communication.

At Lanter Technologies, we want to be involved in your business critical conversations. The more we know about you and your operations, the more helpful we can be. For that reason, when engaging a new provider, you should expect them to conduct an initial discovery phase, during which they will work to develop a deep understanding of your needs and goals. Only then can the IT solutions that will best serve your business be identified.

As an external IT support provider, in order for us to do our job properly there needs to be a level of collaboration and, again, trust. Trust is such an important concept here, particularly because a client might struggle to extend that trust initially, possibly compounded by the fear of a loss of control. However, without a client who is willing to take a leap of faith, the relationship stands much less chance of bearing fruit. 

Being at the innovation edge

Another thing you might not expect from your provider is their commitment to researching the very latest global innovations in technology, and up-to-the-minute hardware and software developments. This deep knowledge enables them to make the most solid recommendations for IT solutions that will drive the success of your business in the immediate and long-term. This realisation often come as a surprise that subverts client expectation, particularly where the provider has been engaged to manage one specific aspect of their IT operations. But beyond this, being presented with a list of suggested improvements that could be made to your infrastructure is a great sign! After all, a bespoke offering will guarantee high-quality IT support that meets the needs of your people and customers.

Of course, many other unexpected benefits can flow from a properly established and maintained relationship between client and provider. For instance, many clients don’t realise the support they can access around automation and workflows. With the right tools in place, double-handling can be eliminated, information can be found quickly, staff can save time, and efficiencies can be improved.

How secure is your business?

Lastly, but possibly most importantly, security is an issue that tends to crop up quite frequently during conversations with clients who don’t necessarily know too much about what to expect from their IT partner 

Many businesses live in blissful ignorance, believing that their security is being adequately managed by their current provider … that is until a significant and potentially debilitating breech occurs. Your expectations of your provider should actually have included a commitment to identifying any previously unidentified or potential security risks, and recommending measures to boost protection. After all, your IT infrastructure is the gateway through which you and your team access all of your business information. As an absolute priority therefore, your IT support provider should be able to offer you peace-of-mind that your business critical data is being appropriately protected.