With our increasing reliance on IT systems, and as those systems and their underlying components become more complex, most organizations have become heavily dependent on external resources and providers who can assist with deploying and supporting their systems. Because these relationships are so critical to an organization’s success, finding the right provider is essential – and often difficult.
We frequently receive calls from clients who are unhappy with their current IT provider and ask us to put them in touch with a more suitable firm. After advising numerous clients in this regard, we have developed a quick list of questions we use to help them select the IT partner who best fits their organization. You can use these questions as a framework to lead similar internal discussions in your organization.
What are your current challenges?
We start by outlining what is and isn’t working today. Discussions about your challenges and recent experiences help us better understand your pains and your expectations of IT providers.
What kind of systems and IT resources do you have in place today?
After learning about your challenges, we try to gain an understanding of your existing systems and resources. Selecting the right partner is heavily dependent on the types of systems and resources you have in place. It is important for your provider to have had experience with your types of systems as well as a positive track record with clients in similar environments.
What are your plans for the next three to five years?
Although it is critical to ensure your IT provider is well equipped to handle your current systems and processes, it is just as important to make sure they will be able to accommodate your future needs. In many instances, companies do not have a good handle on their plans, so we recommend conducting a high-level integrated business and IT planning exercise to determine potential future paths in order to better equip the management team with selecting potential providers.
What type of service delivery model would work best?
As the saying goes, we all want to have our cake and eat it too. When it comes to selecting an appropriate IT provider, it is vital to nail down your service delivery expectations. For instance, if you plan to turn over all IT management and support activities to an external provider, be aware that you’ll be looking at a much higher price point and a greater need for vendor resource capability and maturity, compared to utilizing a project-oriented support model on an as-needed basis.
Selecting an appropriate IT provider and maintaining a healthy partnership-oriented relationship is a critical success factor for all organizations. Not having the right partner can significantly impact your organization, and changing providers frequently could be highly disruptive as well as costly. Doing your homework and following a simple, yet disciplined, methodology can provide significant strategic and tactical capabilities while minimizing IT-related risks.
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