Because the Only Constant is Change…

Trust is a crucial component in business relationships, especially when it comes to technology. Businesses must trust their technology service providers to be truthful, accurate, and dependable. But how do you forge and maintain this type of relationship when the expertise offered is likely outside your wheelhouse?

As a business grows, it often requires specialized skills and knowledge that may not be available internally. This is where business advisors come in, providing support in areas that become too complex or inefficient for internal staff to manage or require specific expertise. You will need to hire experts who you can trust to manage various aspects of a business as it grows and changes. One area where many companies look for expert support is IT services. Even if you have internal IT staff or technicians, most companies will come to an inflection point sooner or later that requires an outside service provider’s help.

This blog takes a closer look at how you should plan to engage with your IT service provider, the critical role *trust* plays in the mix, and what the ongoing relationship should look like over time for the ongoing health of your business. Let’s dig in.

Static vs. Dynamic Growth

Static changes are those indigenous to functional aspects of the business that are expected to change consistently across the business. Examples of this are accounting, marketing, and sales. As a business grows the accounting function is expected to diversify into functional roles as demand for services increases. These changes are consistent across businesses and often involve adding more specialized roles as the business grows. It is not surprising or unexpected to move from having just a bookkeeper to adding a person for AR, AP and eventually a controller and more.

Dynamic changes are driven by external factors and can significantly impact the risk associated with the business. For example, staff increases change the application of employment and taxation laws.  Revenue changes drive taxation applications and such. What is not clear, in dynamic change are those which do not have a legal or financial impact. Examples include changes in staff, revenue, and technology.

Technology changes often do not have direct legal or financial impacts on small to medium-sized businesses but can still significantly affect operations and risk. And, for many small to medium businesses, technology ends up being managed by those providers the business trusts. 

Technology and Trust

Trust can be a verb, or it can be a noun, and therein lies the challenge. When it comes to technology, trust must be a verb, and even then, there are discrete differences. Trust in technology providers is essential, but it must be an active process. This trust dynamic should look like this:

  • Businesses must actively rely on and depend upon their technology providers, ensuring that they challenge assumptions and regularly reassess risks. Trust should not be passive; businesses should actively engage with their technology providers, asking hard questions, challenging proposals, and seeking insights that impact their operations.
  • And, in turn, IT providers should make sure they challenge you to stay ahead of risks. They should press to stay informed about business strategy and challenge your business to reassess risk factors regularly to be able to advise you adequately to minimize risks growth and change can introduce.

Key Questions

The crucial question is this: Is your trusted technology provider challenging what you know and accept about the role of technology in your business? Are they relying on you to be the expert and ask the hard questions? When was the last time you said no to something they proposed? When was the last time they shared an insight, any insight, that made you question its impact on your business? If they are not raising items that challenge what you know, then are you safe placing your trust in them? If you do not know the questions to ask, are they proactively letting you know what those are?

Summary

  • Businesses should evaluate whether their technology providers are challenging their understanding of technology’s role in their operations.
  • They should assess whether their technology providers are actively sharing insights and challenging assumptions, and if not, whether it’s safe to continue placing trust in them.
  • If businesses lack the knowledge to ask the right questions, their technology providers should be helping them understand and navigate these complexities.

As the saying goes, the only constant is change. The importance of expertise, trust, and active engagement in managing technology and other aspects of business operations cannot be overstated. The need for businesses to regularly reassess their relationships with technology providers and ensure that they are actively challenging assumptions and seeking ongoing insights to mitigate risks effectively is literally business critical. So, choose your IT providers carefully.

As part of my role for our customers I search out articles from impartial third parties to develop conversations with customers. The goal is to share insights, discuss the potential benefits, impacts (both positive and negative), and when it fits, we chart a path to embrace. When it does not fit, we arrive at an agreement of the risks and move onward. This post is one interpretation of this resource: EmpoweringSmallBusiness_TechnologyReport.pdf (uschamber.com)

If you have questions or concerns about the growth and health of your business and the IT strategy needed to support that growth, we’d love to talk. Lead I.T. Consulting always starts with the business and customizes technology solutions to fit your business goals while minimizing risk. Book a meeting to discuss or complete a contact form and let us know how we might help.

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