Has your IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) delivered during the pandemic?
The sudden announcement of Covid lockdown restrictions probably blindsided your business last year – and you weren’t the only ones.
Following this period of huge upheaval that triggered unprecedented change, business practices have been completely reshaped. Forced to reassess the way they operate – from rapidly adjusting to remote working at scale to applying for and implementing government aid – many business leaders reverted to survival mode: freezing projects, tightening purse strings and shifting priorities to ride out the pandemic. This cautious mindset perpetuated a ‘make do’ approach to the management of IT services – unless you were part of the minority that has shone, such as online retailers and PPE manufacturers.
Even if your business has struggled with its IT service, you may have been unable to challenge the status quo due to increased risks during unstable business conditions.
Common failings during this difficult period have included:
- An inability to facilitate and support effective homeworking;
- Failure to readjust IT services to ensure security is maintained
- Providing insufficient support for ongoing projects while adjusting to new priorities.
Measuring value from your MSP
The rapid rollout of the UK’s vaccination programme has raised hopes that the nation can emerge from lockdown for the final time into a “new normal” – ushering in a new way of working that takes lessons from the past months. As a forward-thinking leader, you will recognise the role technology can play in helping you adjust to this new landscape and grow, by refocusing your business strategy in partnership with the right MSP.
Key to this is the process of measuring the effectiveness of your current IT services – whether delivered internally or by an external provider – and exploring new options if they are falling short of your expectations. This poses two questions, the answers to which will impact the future success of your business: how should you evaluate the service your business is receiving from your current IT department (internal or external)? And how should you explore the market if it becomes apparent a change is needed?
Evaluating your IT service
To be worthwhile and successful, the evaluation process must be comprehensive. There are five crucial factors that every business should be acutely aware of about their IT service provider. By carefully evaluating them, you will be well-placed to make informed judgements about how IT is supporting your business.
To achieve this, consider the following questions:
Q1: Are they the right cultural fit?
For the partnership to be a success, both parties’ approach to key factors must align, such as: quality of service, pricing, willingness to accept change, and definition of success.
Q2: Are they quick to respond to issues, and do they resolve them efficiently?
Effective channels of communication should be established between your users and your IT department. Compare their performance with the requirements set out in your KPIs and assess whether they are providing value for money.
Q3: Are they truly proactive and preventative?
The pandemic has underlined the importance of adopting a proactive approach to IT. A reactive IT department – one that responds to issues as and when they happen – lacks the foresight to prevent issues from occurring in the first place. Whereas a proactive department will take steps to anticipate potential issues and implement measures designed to prevent them.
Q4: Can they rapidly scale based on your requirements?
Enforced homeworking has made businesses acutely aware that their needs can change in the blink of an eye. IT departments must be able to maintain pace with these changes and address fluctuations seamlessly. This will become increasingly pertinent as your business begins expanding its operations again once lockdown restrictions are lifted and economic conditions improve.
Q5: Do they understand how IT can provide business value?
Your IT department should recognise that there’s more to technology than just supporting existing business processes. By adopting a holistic approach to IT, they can transform technology from a bottleneck into a business enabler.
Exploring the market
Your IT service provider may have risen to the challenge and resolved the issues faced by your business during the pandemic. However, if you have evaluated your current provider and concluded it’s not meeting your basic needs, what next? It’s time to engage with an IT partner that considers the impact technology has on the entire business and its growth strategy; one that aligns with your objectives and helps you achieve innovation and success.
Choosing the right IT partner is difficult enough at the best of times. Therefore, the post-lockdown market review must be comprehensive. It should involve more than reviewing a potential partner’s credentials, track record and ability to manage your user’s day-to-day needs; explore their values, goals and willingness to embrace your business strategy as well. Take the time to:
- Ensure cultural compatibility
- Ensure they understand your business’s strategy and how the IT goals can contribute to achieving them
- Review each providers ability to integrate with you at the business level
- Review each providers ability to help you innovate
If this seems like a daunting prospect, you might benefit from expert assistance connecting your IT systems and digital strategy to your business objectives – the right partner will help you achieve this.