Mark Jackson is Sales Manager at Perfect Image – a North East-based IT services consultancy. Here he talks about considerations when working with an IT provider to make sure their solutions are aligned to your business needs.
Making a purchasing decision on behalf of your business isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. Think about it, there’s a huge difference between simply buying a commodity like pencils and pens, to buying in a service like your IT.
Unlike a commodity – where it’s a simple transaction of cash in exchange for raw goods – a service should be about using expertise to help another who doesn’t share that same level of understanding. At Perfect Image that’s what we do – our offering is totally service-led; we work with our customers to provide intelligent IT solutions, along with full technical support, that helps to bring about real business benefits.
We offer a wide range of products through our different partnerships. However, we don’t make assumptions and never push a particular vendor. Rather, we take a totally bespoke, consultative approach.
We take the time to get to know your business and your current IT systems. We work with you to determine what it is you want to get out of your IT systems and how in turn that will positively impact your business. Then, using our years of experience and all the different tools at our disposal, make a recommendation that is right for you – we make sure that your IT is aligned to your business.
So what can you do to make sure that your IT systems are aligned to your business? We’ve developed a list of hints and tips to help you on your way:
Make your priorities clear:
It’s easy for people to make assumptions (and you know what they say about those), so make your business goals and their proprieties clear from the outset. Tell your IT provider (or potential IT provider if you’re checking out the market) what it is you want to achieve as a business and by when. Armed with this information, your service provider can’t – or at least shouldn’t – make any assumptions and therefore their recommendations should be based on what is right for you and your business, not what think is going to be best.
Because your IT provider should be giving you a service, not simply selling you a commodity, working together should be like a partnership. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – what can you expect from working together, what involvement or commitment will the IT provider need from you, what service levels can you expect in return? Understanding the answers to these questions upfront makes the delivery much smoother and therefore beneficial to your business.
Don’t take products pushed from your incumbent:
It’s easy to think that because you’ve been working with an IT provider for a while they must really understand the complexities of your company; therefore what they’re recommending must be best for your business. In some cases this is true, however, in other instances it becomes easy for IT providers to simply push products to their existing customer-base because a relationship already exists.
If your incumbent recommends a particular product, ask them why – remember my point about questioning. Your incumbent’s answer will determine if they really do understand what it is you want to achieve and whether or not their vision of your IT is really aligned to your business.
Remember service, not commodity.
It’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t buying pens and pencil here. After all, your IT systems are what underpin the whole of your business; you need the expertise of experienced professionals to help you achieve your business goals. If when speaking with an IT provider it seems as though the process is purely transactional, the chances are they haven’t understood your aims and objectives, so it’s highly unlikely that the IT solutions they’re suggesting will help you to move closer to your goal.
Proof of concepts:
Before signing on the dotted line, ask to see a proof of concept where possible. The purpose of this is to demonstrate how the proposed system will really work in your environment and with your data. It’s also an opportunity for you to make sure the IT provider has understood your brief, demonstrating a deep understanding your goals and making sure that your IT solutions are aligned to your business.
At Perfect Image we practice what we preach. We are the providers of our own IT solutions. When making updates, integrating new products or servicing the system, we keep close in mind what it is we want to achieve as a business – our systems are aligned to our goals and are helping us to bring real benefits to our own business by ensuring we deliver ever improving services to our clients.