If you’re a business owner or leader, you know how important it is to have a reliable and effective IT partner that can help you achieve your goals, keep your workforce productive while maintaining a safe and secure network environment.
But how do you know if your IT partner is really delivering on their promises and meeting your expectations? How do you measure their performance and value?
One way to assess if you have the right IT partner is to see if they’re nailing these 8 critical priorities that are essential for any successful IT strategy:
Security is the number one priority for any IT partner, as cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, and represent potentially significant damage to your business reputation, operations, and finances. It’s no surprise that global spending on cybersecurity products and services is expected to reach $174.7 billion in 2023, up from $151.2 billion in 2020 (source: Gartner). Your IT partner should be offering you a comprehensive security solution that covers all aspects of your IT environment from network and endpoint protection, to data encryption and backup, identity and access management, and threat detection and response.
Vendor management is another key priority for your IT partner. they should be able to help you select, negotiate, and manage the best vendors for your IT needs. With a deep understanding of your business requirements and goals, they should be able to recommend the most suitable vendors for your specific situation. They should also be able to act as the interface with vendor support issues through resolution, saving you time and money.
Business continuity is the ability to maintain or resume your business operations in the event of a disruption or disaster, such as a power outage, a natural disaster, or a cyberattack. Your IT partner should be able to help you design and implement a business continuity plan that ensures your critical systems and data are always available and accessible, regardless of the circumstances. Your IT partner should also be able to test and update your plan regularly and provide you with the necessary tools and training to execute it effectively.
PROJECTS + PROCUREMENT
For the day to day needs of supporting your company’s IT environment, most businesses need an IT partner with a deep bench of technical expertise to plan, execute and manage projects for any number of reasons. Your IT partner should help you define the scope, budget, timeline, and deliverables of your IT projects, as well as manage the project team, stakeholders, risks, and quality. And they should also be able to help you procure the right hardware, software, licenses, and services for your IT needs at favorable prices and terms.
Your IT partner needs a strong help desk for your employees when they encounter any IT issues or need any assistance. Your IT partner should be able to offer you a responsive and reliable support service that covers all your IT devices, applications, and systems and resolve your employees’ issues quickly and efficiently. Providing your employees with ongoing training and education through an online learning platform on how to use your IT tools effectively is a big plus.
Response times are important indicators of your IT partner’s performance and customer service quality. Does your IT partner meet or exceed the response times that are agreed upon in your SLA (service level agreement)? What is their first call resolution (FCA) rate? Your IT partner should be communicating with you clearly and regularly about the status of your help desk or project requests, keeping you informed of any delays or changes and ultimately, ensure your requests are resolved.
This requires performing regular checks and updates on your IT systems and devices to prevent potential problems or failures before they occur. Proactive maintenance can help you improve your IT performance, reliability, security, and efficiency. Your IT partner should be continuously monitoring, patching, updating, optimizing, auditing, and reporting on your IT environment.
IT LEADERSHIP (vCIO)
The best IT partners play a major role in helping you align your IT strategy with your business strategy, vision, and goals. They should be acting as a trusted advisor and a strategic partner for your business growth and innovation. Your IT partner should help you assess your current IT situation and capabilities, identify your future IT needs and opportunities, and develop a technology roadmap for achieving them, leveraging the latest and most appropriate technologies that meet your needs and budget realities.
The business technology landscape continues to increase in complexity with the introduction of new applications, tools and cyber threats. It’s increasingly difficult for a small IT department or outside IT partner to effectively navigate this evolving landscape and still meet the needs of most businesses.
Use the following checklists to make sure your current IT partner is nailing these 8 critical IT priorities.