How Does an IT Provider Deliver Real Value? Why Annual Surveys and Strategic Reviews Matter

You’re investing money in an IT provider. It’s expensive. And you feel as though they’re not doing much more than keeping the lights on. Don’t you deserve a return on your technology investment? Yes, you do. If you’re unsure why you’re not gaining one or why it’s too little, it’s time to ask yourself some serious questions.

Does your current IT provider understand your real needs? Do they listen to you and respond to your feedback, or do they shut it down and simply tell you how to manage your technology? An IT provider’s behavior can tell you a lot about their intentions. Two behaviors that show they’re invested in getting you a return, are conducting annual surveys and strategic reviews.

Surveys and strategic reviews set the stage for continuous improvement in your technology and organization. But why are these methods such a game changer? To answer this question, we need to examine the difference between your average IT provider and a strategic one. Let’s start with the former.

What’s Wrong with the Typical IT Provider?

The average IT provider sells out-of-the-box solutions. While signing up for this type of service may sound convenient, its easy implementation and lower costs come at the expense of customization to your specific needs.

Take cybersecurity for example. A generic cybersecurity package will likely overlook your business’s unique vulnerabilities and regulatory requirements, leaving you exposed to attacks. Is that really a risk worth taking? According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023, the average cost of a data breach for businesses with less than 500 employees is 3.31 million dollars. I think it’s fair to say that most SMBs wouldn’t be able to withstand that amount of damage.

Since you’re just another client to them, the average IT provider won’t do the deep work with you to uncover opportunities where technology can grow your business. They’re focused on providing you a prepackaged service. That’s it.

Contrast that with a client-centric provider who offers strategy—it’s their job to find growth opportunities. For example, maybe they’ll advise you on a new application that cuts your workload in half. Or help you implement a cloud solution to improve your business’s scalability in our increasingly mobile world. Unlike reactive providers who simply keep your lights on, a client-centric IT service provider’s sole purpose is to leverage technology to help you grow.

And speaking of reactivity, because typical IT providers aren’t proactively monitoring and assessing your technology, problems bubble under the surface, growing until they explode into excessive downtime and costly repairs. In contrast, proactive IT service providers actively search for technology issues in your business and stomp them out before they become an emergency. It’s like a good doctor who provides preventive care for your technology and guidance on how IT can help your business achieve its best health.

The Importance of Partnering with a Strategic IT Provider

Your business is unique. And that means you have unique challenges that require unique solutions. Can a cookie cutter IT service provider address those needs? Probably not. It’s not their goal. Their objective is to help you manage your technology and use it to keep your organization running—not to help grow your business. To grow, flourish, and reach your true potential, it’s vital that your IT provider understands your unique needs. Let me give you an example.

We’ve helped companies consolidate their data when it’s scattered across various, disconnected systems, such as spreadsheets, CRM systems, and staff members’ computers. The goal of these projects is to provide clients with a unified view of their company. How does this impact the client’s organization? Business leaders are empowered to make quick, effective decisions, improving the company’s overall efficiency and competitiveness.

Why a Holistic IT Approach Matters

These days, technology infiltrates every area of your business, from operations to customer service. That means a technology problem or change in one area of your company could domino, impacting multiple areas. For example, a software update in your inventory management system could disrupt data synchronization between your sales and customer service departments. How could this impact your company? It could very likely prevent staff from accurately tracking stock levels and effectively responding to customer inquiries, causing chaos within your organization and ultimately hurting your customer service and reputation.

Another common scenario is implementing new technology, such as a CRM application. At first glance, this may not seem like a critical decision. However, when viewed holistically, it becomes clear that it could significantly impact your entire company for years to come. Consider this.

How many departments will interact with the CRM? Of course, marketing and sales will, but so will operations and business leaders who rely on the data to fulfill customer needs and make strategic decisions, such as discontinuing a poorly performing product. What’s more, consider what could happen during a regulatory review if your CRM system exposes sensitive company data. You could face substantial fines.

For these reasons, it’s critical to look at how your technology impacts your company as a whole. A strategic IT service provider can help you with this, enabling you to make smarter decisions that will save you time, money, and protect the integrity of your business for the years ahead.

Your IT Partnership Is a Two-Way Street

Far too often we hear from clients about previous IT providers. The number one complaint? They don’t listen—they just tell us.

Unlike a conventional MSP, a strategic IT provider is a partner. They’re invested in your business and want to see it grow. To accomplish that, understanding your needs is vital. Instead of your provider telling you how to manage your IT, a strategic partner has a conversation with you. We listen, hear out your concerns, and then provide recommendations based on what you’ve told us and what we’ve observed in your business.

A prime example of a successful IT partnership is Microsoft’s collaboration with the famous soccer club Real Madrid in 2014. Real Madrid needed to update their digital presence—improving fan engagement beyond attending games, social media, and visiting their website. Microsoft listened to this need and facilitated a digital transformation using cloud technology. They developed an app and engagement platform where fans can watch past games, search player stats, and tour the stadium. Throughout the IT initiative, Microsoft provided continuous support, updates, and innovation, helping Real Madrid grow digital revenue by over 30%.

It should come as no surprise that Microsoft achieved these results. The real question is, why can’t your average IT provider do the same? Likely, because they’re not thinking like a partner. Partners look after their clients, have their best interest in mind, and guide them, bringing out the best in you. That’s impossible to do without taking the time to listen and understand where you’re coming from as a business, and then fostering that relationship with fast, reliable support over the years. Just like any healthy relationship would.

What It’s Like to Work with a Strategic IT Provider

If maximizing ROI is your goal, strategy is a critical part of your partnership with an IT provider. While your typical IT provider may conduct quarterly reviews, a true partner can elevate this process. How? By moving beyond the “quarterly review” mindset. Simply reviewing progress every quarter is a passive approach. In contrast, incorporating strategy makes the review process more active and fluid.

The strategic review process starts out with an assessment of where you’re at with your technology. What types of bottlenecks is it creating? What opportunities for growth and higher productivity could technology allow? In our strategy sessions at Leverage IT, we ask these questions.

Once we’ve identified where changes need to occur, we develop a roadmap of improvements and then prioritize the tasks that will help you achieve those goals. Unlike a lot of IT providers, our review process is evolving. We regularly touch base with you to ensure we’re on track to achieve your goals and consider iterations. We’d never assume all our suggestions are perfect.

We need you to tell us how we’re doing and if the implemented strategies achieve your desired result.

The feedback and actionable insights we receive from you in each of these strategy sessions is then turned into recommendations on how to move forward. This is not a one way conversation. We’re getting your feedback in each of these strategy sessions while also advising you on the best path forward. As your needs evolve, we evolve. Just like any good partnership should be. We’re working together to reach your goals, while you can tap into our wealth of knowledge about technology. Without your feedback, we simply won’t know if we’re on the right track.

The Game Changing Effects of Annual Surveys

While strategy sessions and regular reviews benefit individual clients, feedback from annual surveys improves the overall service quality, ensuring all clients experience increased ROI through shared insights and collective improvements.

The main goal of an annual survey is simple: gather comprehensive feedback from all our clients to understand what they think of our services and if we’re meeting their needs. We analyze this data to improve our services, embodying what it means to be a true partner and helping you achieve ROI year on year.

Client comments are crucial for identifying service deficiencies. For example, in our latest annual Client Satisfaction Survey 2024, here are some comments that highlighted gaps in our service:

“I feel that it would be helpful if Leverage provided test restores. I’m familiar with the set up and frequency of our backups, but not as familiar with whether or not a restore would go smoothly.”

“That it (our data) is spread across multiple technology solutions and systems. It has evolved beyond what Leverage was able to oversee/support. Frankly it got way out of alignment from best practices.”

“You can’t ask this question without taking the cost of software into account. I know there is more effective software out there, but the ROI doesn’t pay. Not Leverage’s fault!”

What do all these comments have in common?

The mentioned service gaps aren’t actually gaps. In fact, we offer solutions to all the cited issues. The real problem is, we haven’t communicated this clearly enough to our clients.

To address this need, we’ve hired more consultants to meet client demand and provide more comprehensive technology guidance. With more consultants available, we’ll be able to better spot these gaps, discuss them with clients, and offer the best solution. The result? Clients receive higher quality service that’s more attentive to their needs, improves the efficiency of their organizations, and finds opportunities to lower their costs.

For all these reasons, I can’t recommend enough working with an IT provider that takes surveys seriously. This practice is a sign that a potential partner looks to improve their services, listens to your needs, and holds themselves accountable to you, the client.

To see what an annual survey looks like, you can download our Client Satisfaction Survey here.

How Regular Feedback Reaps ROI

What’s the difference maker when it comes to gaining an ROI from your technology?

Sure, having a partnership with your provider, personalized service, and a strategy are all important. But if you really want to reap an ROI from your technology, you need a provider focused on continuous improvement. This is the true purpose of strategic reviews and surveys. Here are two ways they improve your service and ROI from your technology.

Decisions Are Made from Data—Not Guesses

As mentioned, our primary purpose in conducting surveys and strategy sessions is to help you achieve your business goals. We couldn’t do that without the data these methods provide.

While your typical provider will simply guess how to improve your service or not care at all, a strategic IT provider focuses on hard facts. What do clients really think? What are their comments, suggestions, and feedback?

Knowing this data helps us make real improvements to your service, where you’ll continue to reap ROI as our partnership evolves. With data in hand, a strategic advisor can make the best decisions on your behalf and offer new technology solutions to meet your needs. They’ll also learn how to improve your service and best tackle your goals.

Services Evolve with Your Business

Your business is constantly changing. Whether you’re reacting to market shifts, new cybersecurity threats, or business growing pains, your needs continually evolve as you grow and the world changes. A strategic IT partner understands change is a normal part of running a business. Which is why surveys and strategy sessions are so important. We need to know where your business is heading and which new challenges you face, so we can adapt to your needs.

While many IT providers will provide some ROI upon your initial engagement, how many continue to do so years into your partnership? By being flexible, adapting to your needs, and focusing on improvements, we help clients reap ROI from technology every year. We change as you change.

Your Unique Business Deserves a Unique Solution

If you want the maximum ROI from your technology, a customized solution is really the only way. You need a provider who listens to you, is open to feedback, and is committed to continual improvement. You deserve it. Because you are not just another business. You have unique needs, challenges, and goals. So don’t settle for a conventional IT provider who treats you like any other business.

Whether you work with us or another strategy focused IT provider, choose someone who goes above and beyond to get your feedback. Surveys and regular strategy sessions are clear signs they take your unique needs seriously. If you’re looking for your highest possible ROI, don’t settle for anything less.

What’s your experience working with strategic IT providers? Do you have a technology strategy for your business? Let us know in the comments below.

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