Trust is a hurdle that leaders must often overcome before they are willing to hand off management of their company’s IT system. But the reality is that most companies are not experts on IT and thus are not in a position to develop and maintain the best platform for their employees.
“In a lot of cases, people just have a hard time handing someone else the keys,” says Ken Vanden Haute, vice president of sales and marketing at Meritech Inc.
Risks abound, however, when you choose to manage your own system. You become reactive rather than proactive and you put yourself at risk that your system will fail you at a critical moment because you didn’t have a clear sense of its capabilities and limitations.
“If you don’t change the fluids in your car and check your tires and brakes, after a period of time, you’re going to have a problem,” Vanden Haute says. “Computer networks are the same way. They need regular maintenance.”
Smart Business spoke with Vanden Haute about finding the right firm to handle this responsibility and how it can deliver a return on your investment.
Do some companies still fear technology?
Sometimes, people just get used to doing things the same way over and over again and they don’t always know there are other options out there that can help them do it better. There is still a little bit of fear. But the bigger problem is companies don’t understand that when you have someone monitoring and managing your system, they can make recommendations before you are faced with a critical situation.
If you knew you could fix a problem while it’s still minor and before it becomes a devastating blow to your business, think about the ROI on that.
What are some clues that you have found a good IT firm to work with?
You want to find somebody who is interested in your business. If you sit down at the first meeting and the firm is telling you that you have to spend money upfront, it’s probably not the best sign.
Find someone who wants to diagnose before prescribing a treatment. You want a partner who is willing to put in an investment on their own behalf before asking you to make an investment in their business.
When someone comes in and says, ‘OK, you need to do this and this and this and it’s going to cost you this much to get going. But once you do that, then we’ll be willing to work with you.’ That’s not a good sign.
What can you do before you meet with the firm to make it an easier process?
Map out to the best of your knowledge what your infrastructure looks like as far as your servers and phone system.
Provide an outline of your backbone system and how it has to integrate with your company. Who are your vendors and service providers and what challenges are you experiencing with connection, speed, maintenance and failures.
Have a good sense of your current environment and your daily workflow so the IT firm can see how your company communicates.
Where is the ROI of managed IT services achieved?
There are some leaders who question how it could be better to have a group of people from an outside firm managing your IT services instead of one internal person. The fact is, however, that it’s hard for one person to do everything.
When you hire the right firm, you have the advantage of a help desk and a team that is watching over your system from different vantage points. They can develop a scheduled maintenance program that will head off problems before they occur and keep you posted on what’s been done. The firm can help you develop a plan to take on different projects over time that will improve your system whether it’s a new firewall, stronger spam filters or a better backup system.
Project planning really keeps the firm efficient throughout the contract and eliminates down time, which keeps your system performing at a high level. And that means more time nurturing your customers and growing your business.