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Outsource Partnerships Built On Trust

10 Nov, 2009 By: Charles L. Nault imageSource

Outsource Partnerships Built On Trust

The level of knowledge and experience required to integrate technology
effectively is extensive, regardless of company size. For the smaller dealership
who outsource IT, limited resources often require you to work with a company
that you trust and who will provide the information and technology you need, as
well as competent technicians and people to augment your existing staff.

This company must be competent and trustworthy enough to be the focal point for
all of your solutions projects, regardless if they partner with other firms to
provide the entire solution. One very valuable resource that smaller companies
do not often employ (but should consider on some scale), is  an IT “point
person” or committee, while larger companies should have a  designated   
Technology Council.  This should be a cross section of the people who use the
technologies that are required to operate your business every day and can advise
senior management on IT on a regular basis. Through a council, you can get
honest feedback on how your current network and IT staff are performing.

Control or compromise?

One of the major inhibitors to a business relationship with a value-added
partner is lack of trust. You may believe that giving up control or management
of any part of your Information Technology solution is risky and that you (or
your clients) can add this component more economically in-house.    The risk in
outsourcing is minimal compared with the cost of ill-fated attempts to handle
this area yourself. You can’t fudge on certified, educated technicians and
personnel in an area that demands qualified expertise. If you do  your homework
properly on who is competent and trustworthy, you will find the partnership best
suited for your business needs.  Understand that for most, IT systems
integrators have a lot of knowledge that you do not have, especially as  today’s
technology innovations change so quickly, and  unless you are specifically in
the technology business, you cannot possibly stay current on the latest systems
which effect what is best suited (cost effective, productive, efficient) for you
and your clients.

What to look for...

A good, outsourced partner in information technology is a solid, reputable
integration firm with technical sales people. They should have the ability to
discuss the most technical solutions in laymen’s terms, and from a strategic
perspective. It is also important to know the difference between the arms length
relationship, and that of a trusted partner who will aide you in achieving your
agenda successfully.  I personally belong to a nationwide group (1NService) who
are like-minded systems integrators who share advice and best-practices. You
need to find partners who have your same perspective and seek the same end
results. Many vendors offer a partner locator tool on their website. This may
only list the partners and give you certification levels.  But it’s a start. No 
matter how you find your potential trusted partner, there are some very
important considerations for determining if they are the right fit, such as:

[1] Integrator Size.  The size of your company and the extent to which you use
technology will determine the size of the integrator If you are a very small
company and you engage a firm that is too large, you’ll be insignificant to
their business. Meet the staff face to face. You may catch a company in the
transition phase from small to medium size. If that is the case and you know and
trust the owners, go into it with your eyes wide open and make it work.

[2] Solid References. The age old game is to provide only the top clients as
references. Take the time to dig a little. Be sure to get both client and
manufacturer references, and give them ample weight.

[3] Certifications. Knowledge is demonstrated primarily by manufacturer
certifications in the IT industry. The most famous of these are Cisco and
Microsoft certifications. Check the certifications, but check the number of
implementations they have done involving the solution(s) you need.

[4] Partnerships. If you are fortunate enough to find a trusted partner who is
completely open and honest about what they cannot do, the very next question you
want answered is how do they fill the holes? It takes a wise businessman to know
what his company doesn’t know, and to be confident enough in his own company’s
abilities to forge strong relationships with those who can do what they cannot. 

[5] Project Management. Because of the complexities of technology, it is
critical to manage the many resources. Your trusted partner must have capable
project managers.

[6] Knowledge Transfer. A good trusted partner in the technology world is
going to make the transfer of knowledge to your staff a vital part of the
business. As soon as you have made the decision to invest in new technology, it
will be imperative that they gain the knowledge required to incorporate it.

[7] Ongoing Support. You have to know your network is performing to peak at
all times. You also need to know that there are more technical eyes than yours
watching the network and gathering all the detailed performance information that
you do not need to know or understand. A trusted partner is going to have a
fully staffed network operations center that monitors your network whenever you
need it.

I hope you can see how important it is that your trusted partner clearly
understands your business. With the right attitude, the right staff, and the
right trusted partner, Information Technology will truly become a strategic
advantage for your company.

Charles L. Nault is author of the new book. Risk-Free Technology: A Simple
Non-Technical Business Owner’s Guide to Stemming Huge Productivity Losses from
Poor Performing Computer Systems, and is Chairman of the Board at Atrion
Networking Corporation. Contact him at:


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