n IT outsourcing provider’s knowledge should extend beyond the technology used in your company’s IT environment. A managed service provider (MSP) that acts as a true to partner to your business will have a firm grasp of your company’s core purpose and the operations necessary to achieve your projected goals. An MSP with a solid understanding of your firm’s processes will likely be capable of aligning your technology with your business goals to ensure your organization has the equipment and support it needs to operate at its full capacity.
“The more the MSP knows about the client’s business, the better. It’s not crucial for the MSP to know everything, but everything the MSP knows just serves to help.”—David S. Schafran (President of Transformation Strategies)
How are an IT outsourcing provider’s knowledge and your business related?
It’s common for businesses to focus on an IT outsourcing provider’s technical knowledge when evaluating its value, but it’s equally important for a managed IT services provider to have a clear picture of your business’s internal operations and the functions most necessary to keeping your company ahead of the curve.
Every business is different and uses its technology in different ways. A capable MSP will ask questions concerning your organization’s primary pain points and help determine a best-fit solution for your specific needs.
The IT outsourcing provider will likely hold scheduled business reviews to meet with your company’s executives, identify major challenges, and determine how these issues can be remedied via changes in your IT infrastructure.
If medical practice notes they are having difficulty managing no-show rates and are losing money as a result, the MSP should be able to compose an IT strategy to help. The managed IT services provider may, for example, propose automated reminders to elicit confirmation from patients via phone calls, email, and texts, thus minimizing cancellations and no-shows.
A managed IT services provider should be proactive in working with your business to develop your IT strategy, but should also be aware of any seasonal operations that occur. For example, an MSP should never bombard a CPA firm with projects during tax season, or schedule major IT environment changes for a school near the beginning of the school year. Each organization has segments of the year where its operations must remain uninterrupted to ensure it continues to function during these critical periods and a valuable MSP will be aware of these circumstances.
What is the necessary breadth of an IT outsourcing provider’s knowledge?
While it’s not necessary an MSP understand everything about your business, the more the IT outsourcing provider knows about your company’s operations, the better. An MSP should be asking a series of questions about your company’s processes to develop a strong understanding of what makes your business, your business. A few of these questions include:
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- How do you make money?
- What impacts your ability to serve your clients/customers?
- During what hours of the day do your employees work?
- Does your business need its systems to stay running beyond the typical nine to five workday?
- Do your employees work remotely? Or do they work primarily from the office?
- Does your business have multiple locations?
- How does your business interact with clients?
- When is the best time of year for your business to implement IT projects?
These are just a few of the questions an MSP should be asking your leadership team as it works to formulate a suitable IT strategy for your company.
How important is an IT outsourcing provider’s knowledge of your business?
Line of business (LOB) applications are vital to the function of most businesses and an MSP should be able to effectively manage and monitor these tools to ensure your business continues to operate without downtime or hassle. The managed IT services provider need not understand everything about the LOB application you use, but should have general knowledge concerning what purpose the applications serve and how your business uses the technology in its daily operations. For example, a law firm may utilize some version of an eDiscovery system to track and store the information it has collected regarding a case and facilitate easy-access during trial. If this application fails, the results of the case may be affected, possibly costing the firm money and clients. A valuable MSP will likely understand the technical requirements of the applications and be capable of building an IT infrastructure that supports their function.
In addition, a managed IT services provider must have sufficient knowledge regarding how each application interacts with other applications used within the organization, as well as the necessity of each application to the business’s operations as a whole. In other words, if something goes wrong with an application, will the business’s processes come to an immediate halt, or will the organization continue operating with only a few minor setbacks? An IT outsourcing provider’s knowledge should enable the company to determine which applications are vital to your business and ensure those tools are prioritized and remain functioning.
What should an IT outsourcing provider understand about your business’s applications?
The best way to ensure a managed IT services provider has a solid understanding of your business is to talk with them. Engage members of the leadership team from both parties and have a thorough conversation regarding the MSP’s processes and previous experiences with clients. Ask the MSP questions such as:
- How do you get to know your clients?
- What do you need to know to serve my business effectively?
- How have you worked with other businesses similar to my own in the past?
- How do you interact with clients?
- What benefits can you provide my business?
Your business’s executives will likely be able to determine the MSP’s capabilities via its response to such questions. If the managed IT services provider stumbles over questions or gives vague answers without examples to back up its claims, your company should be wary of eliciting the IT provider’s services.
Aldridge has been in business since 1984 and has worked with a variety of industries to serve their IT needs. We understand what it takes to operate a successful organization and can help your company reach its full potential via our technology expertise and business acumen. Talk to our IT outsourcing team today to learn more about what Aldridge can do for you.