HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR IT PART­NER

Silicon Luxembourg - - BUSINESS -

NOWA­DAYS, HAV­ING A FULLY FUNC­TION­ING IT DEPART­MENT IS CRIT­I­CAL BE­CAUSE IT IN­CREASES THE EF­FI­CIENCY OF ALL PARTS OF A BUSI­NESS. FUR­THER­MORE, IT STREAMLINES OP­ER­A­TIONS CON­SID­ER­ABLY BY HELP­ING OR­GA­NI­ZA­TIONS CRE­ATE, MAN­AGE, OP­TI­MIZE AND AC­CESS REL­E­VANT IN­FOR­MA­TION AND BUSI­NESS PRO­CESSES. IT SKILLS CAN MAKE OR BREAK A COM­PANY'S COM­PET­I­TIVE­NESS.

If IT is not part of your core com­pe­ten­cies, and you have reached your lim­its with DIY, then it is time to out­source. To do so, how­ever, there are sev­eral steps you must take and ques­tions you need an­swered.

As a former se­nior pro­cure­ment pro­fes­sional, I would even rec­om­mend you take the time to go through a Re­quest For Pro­posal (RFP) process. It is time well-in­vested as the process en­ables you to iden­tify gaps, needs, ob­jec­tives and bud­get. It also lets you prop­erly scan the mar­ket, in­ter­view can­di­dates, gauge their ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ul­ti­mately select and hire the right part­ner. You will iden­tify the op­er­a­tional pro­cesses you need to put in place in or­der to mea­sure their per­for­mance. Be­cause IT im­pacts all func­tions within your or­ga­ni­za­tion, it is es­sen­tial that all rel­e­vant teams are on the same page.

An RFP doc­u­ment will briefly present your com­pany and the pur­pose of the RFP. In ad­di­tion, it will clearly de­scribe your needs, ob­jec­tives and the re­sults you want to achieve. It will present a set of tar­geted ques­tion­naires for the ven­dors so that you can as­sess their ca­pa­bil­i­ties and see if they match your needs.

IDEN­TIFY YOUR NEEDS, OB­JEC­TIVES AND RE­SULTS

An IT part­ner is like an ex­tended team you want to in­cor­po­rate into your busi­ness to help it grow. Have a clear idea of your needs be­cause you will have to ex­plain them so that the IT part­ner can pro­vide the re­sults you are ex­pect­ing. To iden­tify your needs, go through the fol­low­ing ex­er­cise with your rel­e­vant teams to en­sure you are aligned and do not miss any rel­e­vant data:

Take in­ven­tory of your com­pany: what are its strengths? What is it lack­ing?

What are your goals?

What are the tan­gi­ble re­sults you want to achieve?

What are the tasks you need to out­source? As­sess the tac­ti­cal vs. strate­gic part and pri­or­i­tize.

IDEN­TIFY YOUR BUD­GET AND THE SE­LEC­TION CRI­TE­RIA

Your bud­get will de­ter­mine the type and length of the part­ner­ship, as well as the scope of projects you can af­ford to out­source.

The cri­te­ria would in­clude, but is not be limited to, the fol­low­ing:

Tech­ni­cal and de­liv­ery ca­pa­bil­i­ties

SLAS com­mit­ment vs. what you ex­pect

Sup­port and main­te­nance ser­vice (once the projects are de­liv­ered)

Pric­ing struc­ture

Cus­tomer ref­er­ences, re­fer­rals, case stud­ies

Team as­sign­ment: who are they and where are they based? On-shore, near-shore or off-shore? Their se­nior­ity, ex­pe­ri­ence and lo­ca­tion will help you eval­u­ate the pric­ing lev­els Do they have to sub­con­tract? If so, get full trans­parency of the sub­con­trac­tors and en­sure your IT part­ner is your sole con­tact who will take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the de­liv­er­ables

Ex­am­ine the con­tent of the fu­ture sourc­ing con­tract: obli­ga­tions of both par­ties, IP, and all rel­e­vant com­mer­cial and le­gal re­quire­ments

Cul­tural fit and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing: do they ad­here to the CSR poli­cies your com­pany lives by? Do they un­der­stand your re­quire­ments?

IDEN­TIFY PROSPEC­TIVE IT VEN­DORS

Make a list of pos­si­ble IT ven­dors and in­ves­ti­gate them be­fore­hand

Some may be listed on the Dun & Brad­street data­base. If your com­pany has ac­cess to it, per­form a search on their fi­nan­cial sol­vency

Once you have iden­ti­fied all these points, you can in­vite the most qual­i­fied can­di­dates for an in-depth screen­ing and eval­u­a­tion.

CLOUD SER­VICE PROVIDER OR MAN­AGED SER­VICES PROVIDER: WHAT'S THE DIF­FER­ENCE?

Of the many dif­fer­ent ser­vice providers on the mar­ket, cloud ser­vice providers (CSP) and man­aged ser­vices providers (MSP) stand out as two that most busi­nesses strug­gle to dis­tin­guish and un­der­stand. So, what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween them?

Es­sen­tially, an MSP can be a CSP, but a CSP can never be an MSP.

CSPS typ­i­cally of­fer the fol­low­ing type of hosted solutions: desk­top as a ser­vice, in­fra­struc­ture as a ser­vice, plat­form as a ser­vice and soft­ware as a ser­vice. Ex­am­ples in­clude Ama­zon Workspaces (AWS), Drop­box, Google Cloud Plat­form and Mi­crosoft Azure. MSPS can de­liver all of the above ser­vices, as well as a higher level of IT sup­port: au­then­ti­ca­tion, data backup, re­cov­ery and se­cu­rity, dis­as­ter re­cov­ery and busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity, ma­li­cious soft­ware/virus solutions, net­work con­nec­tiv­ity, mon­i­tor­ing and se­cu­rity, and sys­tems man­age­ment. MSPS are typ­i­cally lo­cal, re­gional and/or na­tional providers of gen­eral man­aged IT ser­vices.

Many busi­nesses end up choos­ing CSPS over MSPS be­cause they are of­ten seen as be­ing the less ex­pen­sive op­tion. How­ever, we have to keep in mind that host­ing a busi­ness's IT re­sources and man­ag­ing a busi­ness's IT re­sources are “two dif­fer­ent pairs of shoes,” as they say in Ger­man. This means that a busi­ness should care­fully an­a­lyze the pros and cons of­fered by both ap­proaches, as the seem­ingly cheaper so­lu­tion could end up be­ing quite a costly ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially if the busi­ness does not have the in-house IT com­pe­ten­cies nec­es­sary to mi­grate and man­age its IT re­sources in the first place.

So, if your busi­ness is try­ing to de­cide be­tween a CSP and a more holis­tic MSP, it is cru­cial that you first take time to de­fine what you want to achieve and which of the two choices will ben­e­fit your busi­ness.

DIANE TEA REALTECH COM­PANY MAN­AG­ING DI­REC­TOR / AD­VI­SOR / TECH IN­VESTOR

DAVID CELIS MAN­AG­ING PART­NER AT CMD.SO­LU­TIONS

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