There are key differences between a break-fix IT vendor and a trusted, strategic IT partner. These differences should be evaluated when an organization is considering future technology strategy. What a strategic partner provides their clients is different than what an IT vendor offers.
We have laid out some areas to consider when evaluating an outsourced IT partner:
- The role of an IT Partner
- Measuring Success
- IT Partner Management
- Key Attributes to look for
- Understanding Value Proposition
- Finding the best fit for your organization
The role of a strategic IT partner
A strategic partner can provide several services for your organization. To start, they should reach beyond help desk support to include onsite support, as well. A strategic IT partner focuses on creating a technology strategy and roadmap that aligns with your organization’s broader goals. A strategic partner has the capacity for projects and will help you strategically prioritize your initiatives. Technology assets, infrastructure, and hardware will all be managed by this partner. They should not only have the capacity to support but also provide guidance in the following areas: managing user access accounts, compliance, risk management, and cybersecurity.
Measure your strategic IT partner
Once you know the partner has the mindset and processes to take your organization to the next level, you need to ensure they are meeting expectations. Prior to kick-off, they should work with you to determine key performance indicators for success. Then, the strategic IT partner should provide ongoing reporting across your entire IT landscape, giving you the insights you need.
The best test, of course, is to measure your IT spend against increased productivity and strategic goals achievement.
Managing your strategic IT partner
The ongoing relationship between your organization and your strategic IT partner should not be difficult to manage. An account manager, or another internal point of contact, should provide regular touchpoints, like quarterly business reviews. They should keep you informed on how projects are progressing and provide updates on your strategic IT roadmap. If adjustments need to be made, they should notify you proactively.
Most importantly, your outsourced IT partner should provide you with thought leadership and help you manage accountability in spaces such as compliance, cyber liability, and more. You should feel secure knowing they are looking out for your organization’s best interests.
To ease the vetting process, look for the following key attributes before entering a new partnership:
Operationally, look for these key attributes:
- Key application support (M365, Accounting/billing, Practice/Patient Mgmt. etc)
- Low employee turnover
- Respectable response times
- 24/7 Remote/Onsite Support
When it comes to partnership, consider these attributes nonnegotiable:
- Understanding business operations and practice goals
- Breadth of services (Support, Security, Business Intelligence, Strategic Consulting)
- High customer approval
- Advocate for compliance with other entities
Evaluate your IT partner’ Value Proposition
The value that an outsourced IT partner brings your organization should be weighed against the budget. The partner you choose has to fit within that tangible criterion. However, you should also consider speed and breadth of services in the overall investment calculation. Remember, not all outsourced IT partners offer the same services or products, and not all are partnered with key applications such as Microsoft or Google.
Best fit for you
Not all IT partners are created equal, and not all organizations have the same needs and goals. Finding the perfect fit should mean your partner is is are proven in your core applications, dedicated to your organization’s mission and growth, and priced at a structure that should works for you.
It can also be important to partner with a locally outsourced IT partner who can come onsite when you need them to. This can be for technical fixes, quarterly business reviews, and everything in between. A local organization is going to be more physically accessible and understand your needs.