With the technology landscape in constant flux, IT professionals often find themselves wearing a variety of different hats. Whether you have an in-house IT department or contract the work out to an IT managed services firm, a critical step in understanding the ROI of your technology services is to assess the value of each “hat” to your organization.
The best way to understand what an IT provider does for your company is to consider the work in terms of IT service management. Rather than approach the question from a technology-centric standpoint, it helps to ask what the provider offers to the customer (in this case, the term “customer” may refer to your company’s internal technology users). Using this customer-centric framework, an ITIL-based model for IT managed services might look something like the following:
Note that there are five different services listed here – all of which are routinely being asked of your IT provider. While they are all related to information technology, each one may require a different mentality or set of specialized skills.
So here’s the question: Does your business employ a 5-headed IT person who can effectively provide each of these services? How many employees within your company possess the versatility to teach a co-worker the basics of a computer application and then join in on a strategic planning session with the CFO?
Understanding IT Value: Core vs. Chore
Once you’ve clearly outlined the services your IT provider brings to the table, the next step is to understand the value of each one. This is the pivotal challenge of IT service management. To accomplish this task, we’ll add some qualifiers to the chart: “core” and “chore.”
Core. Core services are critical to your company’s success. More than that, they provide a measurable ROI. These are the services that can be performed effectively only by someone with specialized knowledge of your organization and its needs.
Chore. While chore services are necessary to keep IT systems humming along, they are extremely hard to measure in terms of ROI. Many business leaders consider measuring the cost of these services to be more expensive than actually performing the chores.
The majority of IT services will involve both core and chore tasks. As you develop your model for IT service management, determine what proportion of each service is core vs. chore.
This is the type of chart every IT managed services provider builds in order to understand how much it costs to deliver each service to the client and determine where to invest. For organizations that are not in the technology services business, the chart is equally useful in determining how much it costs your company to deliver these services.
Questions to Ask
Now that you’ve got a clearer idea of the value each service provides for your organization, it’s time to ask some tough questions:
- Is your 5-headed IT person capable of delivering all of the value you’ve assigned to each service?
- Can you improve the ROI on the services your IT person delivers by investing in them to support your business core?
- If you’re considering working with a managed services provider, can they provide an expert for each service you need, or do they, too, have a 5-headed IT person?