Whether it’s over coffee or at a conference, I have the same conversations about the information technology (IT) industry with more than 80 CEOs and leaders that I meet with each year. It usually boils down to the two general feelings they have about their IT, staff and business:
- They’re happy with their existing service
- They don’t know what they don’t know
…And by “they don’t know what they don’t know,” it really means that they’re unaware that they could (and should) be getting more out of their investment in IT support services.
So, when I begin to explain to these business leaders that we have a “unique perspective on technology costs and results”, the confusion sets in pretty quickly. And the question that follows is almost always: “What do you do?”
My first thought is typically to respond by saying we do information technology (IT) strategy and support, which, in all honesty, is as straightforward as I can be. But, unfortunately, that answer is never received that way.
…Why not? I didn’t give them the characteristic, “we’re-an-IT-help-desk” label that they were expecting.
Examining the typical IT model
The IT industry is laden with tech companies, and they all tend to market themselves using the same spiel:
We’re an outsourced IT company that offers:
- 24/7 help desk services
- Server hosting
…And the list goes on and on. Before you know it, you’re caught up in a long list of IT ingredients that you can either add or remove from your shopping cart.
Most organizations with this particular IT model rate their experience with their IT service provider in a way that’s fairly simple:
- Their employees call a help desk to get a problem solved
- The help desk does a good job of answering the phone and solving that problem
- The customer is happy, and the help desk is happy
Now, is your organization’s user experience (UX) with IT important? You better believe it is! …But, is this rote process really moving the ball forward for your organization?
We don’t think so.
There’s so much more to IT support than reactively solving tickets.
Changing how you view IT support
On the other side of the IT industry (and, arguably, the more successful side), there are IT firms like ours that are rooted in a philosophy and approach that—business-wise—aligns with their customers’ missions. The problem with this, though, is the only way that you can sort the apples from the oranges is by learning to analyze what you value about IT and where you’re looking for justification.
Changing how you view IT support is a jarring concept—and that’s because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced with IT. It severely alters your understanding of what an IT relationship should look and feel like. But, the good news is that the results are also jarring because you’ll come to find that you can actually feel the impact of your IT solution on your bottom line.
To make things easier, though, I’ve proposed a simple, four-step process to help you identify and distinguish the new, innovative IT strategy and consulting model from the same-old reactive IT support model, and it all starts by simply asking the right questions…
Shifting mindsets from reactive to proactive IT support
The first step toward choosing the right IT model starts with the kind of questions you ask yourself about your organization. Instead of only focusing on the kind of reactive IT support you’re getting, we recommend asking questions like…
- What are our IT risks?
- How can we measure our staff’s productivity?
- Does our technology infrastructure align with industry best practices?
- What are those industry best practices?
- How is technology lined up to support our business initiatives?
- Are we making the right purchasing decisions?
- Do we have a sound process so we can get predictable results from IT, specifically as it pertains to costs and functionality?
By asking these questions, you discover what your organization values about IT. But, questions alone can’t improve your organization’s productivity or scalability… To achieve those types of outcomes, you have to analyze the relationship you have with your current IT provider, and go from there.
Do you have an IT vendor? Or an IT partner?
What does this mean? Aren’t they both the same? Well, unfortunately, they’re not. Partners work with you and your organization to make strategic decisions that allow everyone to benefit or succeed. Vendors, quite simply, do not.
To learn more about these key differences, read through our guide—it’ll help you review your contract so you can understand your current IT relationship, and then take steps to forge the right IT relationship.
Then, with a better understanding on what you value about IT, as well as the kind of IT relationship that you want to establish, I’m sure the clouds of ambiguity will start to part. But, believe it or not, there’s a whole other level of happiness and satisfaction that you can achieve with your IT services… And it starts with alignment.
Technical alignment to IT industry best practices
A better way to utilize IT is to work with experts who are aligned with your business. For instance, an IT firm that is aligned with your strategy, your costs, and your infrastructure should present a more powerful voice to leadership rather than a simple report of ticket types and hours spent solving various end user issues. They should also make more than recommendations like, “your laptops are out of warranty and should be replaced.”
That kind of “Captain Obvious” recommendation is hardly what we call proactive. Instead, we believe that being proactive is less about the technology used to monitor or remediate your issues and more about how that information is used. For instance, our method for implementing best practices is designed to be as transparent as possible; we have processes in place to help you tackle your IT issues from a top-down perspective. So, instead of just taking tickets and answering calls or examining each individual ticket and wondering what the root cause could be, we shift the focus toward IT industry best practices. We work together with you to improve alignment, which reduces the number of problems your staff has with technology.
At MainSpring, we recognize that the more your infrastructure and business is aligned with IT best practices, the more you’re able to fill the knowledge gaps with objective results, not subjective feelings.
…For us, that is happiness, redefined.
Focusing on the right metrics
After we align your technology, we talk a lot about strategy. Ad nauseam, we ask “why?” We’re not doing this to be annoying… Instead, we want to take the time required to truly know your business, your team and your goals. We focus on the results needed to help you meet your mission—real, outcome-based metrics, and not numbers that just look good.
These outcomes are what move the needle on your organization’s overarching goals, and we do this through a systematic, proven approach that includes the proper mix of services and technology. For example, when it comes to the IT industry, everyone talks about downtime and how it affects productivity levels, and many companies claim they’re able to tip that seesaw—but, no one ever seems to be able to prove how they’ve increased productivity, other than producing a report of all the tickets they solved that month. However, at MainSpring, we designed our ProSuite services to get rid of that obscurity; we’ve put metrics in place to measure the productivity of your organization.
Expect more from your IT services
In the end, we want to know how your organization runs so that we can make a measurable impact on your business. And, knowing what levers to pull to make your staff more productive most certainly becomes a decisive advantage for you, and it fills the gap in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” category. Plus, with our strategic recommendations that line up with the way you work, we help your organization become more productive and scalable. And, suddenly, you go from feeling like you have command and control of your organization’s IT utilization, to actually being in command and control of your IT utilization.
…So, now you know why we can’t simply answer the question, “What do you do?”
Learn more about ProSuite
To learn more about this unique approach to IT costs and results,
which we dub ProSuite, check out the web page. Let us know when you’d like to discuss.
But, most importantly, I encourage you to demand more from IT (#ExpectMore). You deserve it.