Of all outsourcing partnerships, IT consulting is one of the most challenging. Not only do you have to deal with all of the regular outsourcing concerns – cost effectiveness, consistent service, etc – but you also have to ensure that your company’s intellectual property is safe. Add the fact that IT consultants can impact almost every aspect of your business through all-pervasive technology, and you can appreciate why about half of all IT consulting relationships fail.
Fortunately, you can establish an excellent working relationship with your provider of IT managed services by following these tips:
Prevent, respond, revamp.
Keep these three words in mind throughout all interactions with your IT consultants. Focus on: a) preventing problems before they happen; b) installing systems that will help you quickly respond to issues before they turn into catastrophes; and c) establishing protocols for revising systems to prevent problems down the road.
Avoid overly aggressive deal-making.
Outsourcing is common with IT managed services. This means pricing can be very competitive. Forcing an incredible deal may save you money up-front, but it will only limit the flexibility, service, and innovation your IT consultants can provide. If a provider feels their profit margin is threatened, they will shrink from providing any services beyond the bare-bones minimum. Instead of this aggressive approach, use the contract portion of your relationship to find win-win approaches, work through any cultural differences, and establish protocols for change management early on.
Ask for a written copy of the IT consultant’s plan.
The outsourcing plan should include crisis management procedures as well as software and security budgeting. Finally, include built-in motivators for labor-saving solutions, even if this cuts down on billable hours for your IT consultants.
Build a solid plan for transition.
Many IT consulting partnerships fail early on because the transition to a new provider of IT managed services is challenging. Your transition plan should explain the outsourcing shift to both employees and customers.
Don’t neglect the IT consulting partnership once services are underway.
Too often, a chaotic transitional period is followed by lackadaisical ongoing services. Prevent this by investing in project management and requiring regular reports.