Last updated on May 6th, 2022 at 12:22 am
Business owners regularly monitor and measure if their marketing program, employee benefits package and other initiatives add value to their businesses. By doing so, they ensure that these programs perform as intended and adapt to changing business needs.
The same must be done with managed it services, because of the rate at which technology changes, the opportunity it can offer and the degree that businesses depend on technology.
For IT, too often the evaluation focuses on reducing costs, not increasing value. Business owners want to know where they can cut or how they can do something for less. Technology is viewed as an expense, not as a strategy to grow and add value to the business.
Determining if IT adds value to your business takes more than just looking at your hardware and software. Business leaders, together with their IT experts, have to look at their customers’ current business environment, IT talent in house and outside partners, and their organizational culture around innovation and processes.
Step One: Identify current, changing and future business realities within your customer base, target market, competitors, business partners, market influences and changing technologies. Perhaps, like many companies during the recession, you’ve hosted business development seminars as a way to educate and attract new customers, but attendance is low. Potential attendees indicate they are interested in your seminar topics but don’t have the time to attend an off-site.
The opportunity, though, is if perspective customers don’t have time to listen to your message then they are likely telling your competition the same thing. This market influence represents an opportunity to get your message through to your target market. You just need to find another way. A possible solution is to hold webinars which allow your target audience to attend and interact with your company without having to leave their office. Streamlining the seminar process also represents an opportunity to deliver additional content that was not previously possible.
Many times, changing influences represent areas of opportunity which can lead to creating new opportunities. By identifying these, you will be able to develop meaningful solutions. Do not fall into the trap of first identifying solutions and then looking for problems that your new solution can solve.
Step Two: Review existing server, workstation, connectivity and peripheral hardware and software to determine if within your existing infrastructure you can increase performance and add value without increasing costs. For example, if you evaluate how your company uses various software programs, you may find unused features that can improve efficiency. Your customer management software may have the ability to manage shared documents, centralize email correspondence or offer instant messaging capabilities. Using all of your software’s features can add value without increasing costs.
Make sure you optimize your systems and evaluate if there are capabilities you are not using to your advantage.
Step Three: Maximize the benefits from staff, third-party vendors and business partners. First, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the talent and contractual agreements your business uses. This allows you to pinpoint gaps or overlaps in your technical support. Look at the functions your in-house staff provides and make sure you are not paying for duplicate services from an outside provider. If your in-house staff has strong help desk skills, make sure that a portion of a partner agreement does not include any help desk services. Drill into service agreements and work with partners to custom-tailor agreements that fit your current or changing needs to avoid overlaps in resources.
When you understand the executive, administrative and technical IT skills necessary for your company to be successful, you will be able to evaluate your relationships. Develop scorecards to help you monitor ongoing performance, create transparency within IT and maximize the value of personnel and business partners.
Step Four: Place an emphasis on introducing IT vision and innovation into your organization. These include the origination of new ideas, their development into working concepts and their implementation. Assign either in-house or outsourced personnel the responsibility of introducing innovative IT ideas. This person or group should have a firm grasp of the technology landscape with respects to the lifecycle of various technologies as well as emerging technologies and how they will develop in the marketplace. This individual or group is also responsible for developing and implementing ideas through to completion.
Since innovation is considered a major driver in increasing productivity, identify which party is responsible for introducing innovation and where in the decision-making process this step takes place.
Step Five: Develop a process for implementing business initiatives to ensure ongoing success. Identify your organizational structure and decision making process for monitoring day to day support, managing information exchange and sharing business ideas with IT. Define a process for employees to suggest improvements to management. When you give employees a voice, you foster an atmosphere of innovation. With a defined process, you will avoid introducing innovation haphazardly.
Establish a steering committee devoted to oversight and management to make sure IT supports business initiatives. Ultimately both IT and management need to take ownership to ensure that IT adds value to your business. Management provides insight into changing business realties and IT introduces technical innovation and vision to support those realities. Find the balance within your company to ensure that IT always adds value to your business.