Why Your Business Needs a Strategic IT Partner, Not Just Support

Your IT support is letting you down. Technical problems continue to cause downtime, workflow disruptions, and revenue loss. You’re sick of it. It seems like your technology is just scraping by, keeping the lights on, instead of offering any real value.

While you’re unsure how your IT could be improved, right now it’s a cost center. And you can’t help but wonder, is there another way? Yes, there is.

A strategic IT provider can deliver a return on your technology investment. But how do these providers work? How can you identify them? And what benefits do they offer? These are all good questions, and you’ll soon discover the answers. But first, it’s important to understand what sets a strategic IT provider apart from traditional tech support.

The Truth About the Traditional IT Support Model

If your current IT service seems like a cost center, don’t feel bad. What’s really going on is you’re stuck in an outdated IT support system. It’s the traditional model. When your technology has a problem, your provider comes in and repairs it. While he’s in there, he’ll probably do a bit of basic maintenance as well. Does this scenario sound familiar?

The goal with traditional IT service, or the “IT guy” model, is to fix immediate breakdowns and maintain basic infrastructure. Your IT guy may be responsible for managing backups, troubleshooting, virus and malware removal, data recovery, and similar tasks. In other words, you’re paying for basic, tactical IT support.

It’s the IT service model that’s been adopted by companies for decades, and millions of businesses still use it today. But as you’ll soon see, this model slows your organization down and may even be holding your business back from its true potential.

Why the Traditional Model Fails Businesses

When it comes to traditional IT services, there are two core problems with the model. The first is, IT departments often function in silos. They operate in their own little world, with limited communication and alignment with other business functions. You’ve probably experienced this yourself. The IT guys don’t come out of their cave unless there’s a tech problem someone needs help with.

While on the surface this type of operation model may seem innocuous, it can have detrimental effects on the entire business. The problem is cohesion. Unless a company thinks about IT from a holistic standpoint and how it impacts the organization as a whole, then often technology use is fragmented throughout a business. For example, different departments may use disparate applications or tools that don’t integrate well. Or data is scattered all over the place, on personal hard drives, department specific folders, etc. When you lack a cohesive, holistic technology plan, your IT becomes disjointed and slows employee productivity.

The second problem is, traditional IT service firms lack a strategy. Similar to IT departments functioning in silos, this may not seem like a big deal. I mean, why would your IT need a strategy? After all, you hire a provider to fix and maintain your IT so you can focus on your business. The problem is, what happens when technology changes, as it does so quickly these days? Or how can your company work effectively when each department employs different project management software and then suddenly needs to collaborate on a project?

All the above issues deal with strategy. If all you do is maintain your technology, your company is falling behind. While your IT is simply keeping the lights on, your competitors are adopting new, innovative technologies that give them an advantage in productivity, speed, and efficiency.

The core problem here is a mindset shift. Traditional IT firms think “How can we maintain your IT.” Strategic IT providers think “How can we leverage IT for your business growth.” For the latter, you’re no longer thinking of IT as a necessary expense, but rather a strategic asset that can reap a substantial ROI.

Hallmarks of the Strategic, Holistic IT Approach

A strategic, holistic approach to IT goes beyond maintenance and emergency repairs. Instead, it actively looks to grow the business with technology. In other words, technology becomes part of your business strategy. Here’s what that looks like.

Regular Assessments of Your Technology

Strategic IT providers want you to get the most bang for your buck. Therefore, regular assessments of your technology are absolutely critical.

During these assessments, your provider will evaluate whether your IT aligns with your business goals, and if it’s effective enough to meet those goals. Will it help you achieve them? And if so, how quickly will it do so? These assessments also address potential IT risks, such as cyber threats and system failures, as well if your IT investment is delivering your expected ROI.

Follow Best Practices

A strategic IT provider uses data-driven methods to maximize your technology’s impact. Measuring, reporting, and prioritizing IT initiatives helps ensure your technology investments are driving your business forward.

It all starts with prioritizing IT initiatives based on their business impact. Which technology project offers the greatest benefits and business growth potential? That’s where you’ll put your focus. Let me explain how we accomplish this with our clients at Leverage IT.

Once we’ve kicked off your technology initiative, we measure its performance to see if it’s moving towards your goals. Then, we take what we’ve learned from this measuring process and transform that data into reports. These reports can highlight successes, ongoing challenges, and potential improvements, fostering a clear understanding of your IT landscape.

Continuous Conversations and Strategic Planning

Regular management and strategic planning are crucial for integrating IT with your overall business strategy. Unlike traditional IT providers who focus on isolated repairs, a strategic provider emphasizes ongoing dialogue.

It starts with regular management meetings to align IT initiatives with business goals. These sessions ensure IT projects support your company’s strategic direction and adapt to changes in priorities. By maintaining open lines of communication, IT initiatives are consistently evaluated and adjusted to meet broader business objectives. This collaborative approach ensures your technology efforts are always in sync with your business needs.

Throughout all these tasks—from prioritizing IT initiatives to reporting, planning, and technology assessments—a strategic IT provider focuses on the big picture, assessing how technology should be integrated with all departments and the business as a whole. By doing this, you create an efficient business where technology is bringing out your best, instead of slowing you down.

3 Benefits of a Strategic IT Partner

When technology is integrated with a strategic, holistic approach, the payoffs are huge. Here are some of the key benefits:
1. Tap into technology’s hidden well of business growth: As mentioned, traditional IT providers are focused only on technical support and using technology to keep your lights on. If you hire them, you’re missing out. Right under your fingertips is an oil well that can unlock significant growth potential. For example, a cloud infrastructure can reduce overhead and help staff be more productive. The right application can help your employees work more efficiently, lowering your costs. How can technology help you grow? A strategic IT provider will help you figure this out and guide you along the way.
2. Get a return on your IT investment: If you work with a traditional IT provider or none at all, how do you know which technology project to start with? Which one will have the biggest return? A traditional IT provider may not care, because strategy isn’t their focus, and a business leader may just be unsure. It wouldn’t be the business leader’s fault. He or she just doesn’t have the same technology knowhow of experts who’ve worked in IT for decades. This is where a strategic IT provider comes in. They’ll know which technology initiative will have the biggest impact on your business and reap the highest ROI.
3. Ensures you make smart IT decisions: If you discover a new technology online or at a conference, you may be excited to implement it. But stop right there. How do you know this solution is really the best move for your business? Implementation of any new technology is a lengthy, intensive effort that requires a lot of energy and time from you and your staff. If it’s a mistake, your business could suffer for years down the line, losing substantial amounts of money and wasted effort by your staff. A strategic IT provider can help you avoid such missteps. They ensure your IT changes are manageable, aligned with your company’s capacity for change, and can help you explore your options.

How to Identify a Strategic IT Provider: 4 Questions to Ask

Now that you understand how a strategic IT provider works, how do you identify one? Here are four questions to ask:
  1. Do you offer strategic planning or just technical support? And if you do offer strategic planning, what does that look like? A legitimate strategic IT provider will have a service dedicated to strategy and can provide in-depth details of how that service works and benefits you.
  2. What does an average strategy session look like? It’s important your strategic IT provider views you as a partner. If they come in and just tell you what to do, instead of getting your feedback and working with you, that’s a serious red flag. So, when you ask this question, you’re looking for an answer that proves two things. One, they listen to your feedback and, two, they view you as a partner—not just someone who they can tell what to do.
  3. How are IT initiatives prioritized? A reputable strategic IT advisor will prioritize IT tasks based on three factors: business impact, risk, and ROI. Why? They want you to get the most return on your IT investment while also protecting your company from risks like compliance issues, underperforming IT projects, and incompatible technologies.
  4. Can you show evidence of the results from your strategy services? Do they have case studies or testimonials from strategy clients? When you ask them about their results, can they explain them with little to no hesitation? It’s important that whichever provider you choose, they have a track record of working closely with the various departments in a business and contributing to overall company success. These questions will help you determine that.

IT can Transform Your Business

Technology doesn’t have to be a cost center. And being disappointed, frustrated, and unhappy with your IT provider doesn’t have to be a way of life. Hopefully, now you can see there’s another way.

Strategic IT providers that integrate technology with your business goals can have a dramatic impact on your organization. Not only can this drive better business outcomes, but it provides you a competitive edge and that coveted return on your IT investment you desire—more efficiency, fewer risks, and ultimately more profits.

If you’d like to work with a strategic IT provider, we have just the service for you. Our Navigate IT Strategy and Consulting Service is dedicated to developing you a technology strategy that ensures you achieve the greatest return on your investment. We don’t tell you what to do. We work with you. Understanding your unique goals and business needs, and then developing a technology solution together to help get you there. Contact us to learn more.

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