Many companies need a dedicated IT partner, but not all know how to choose the right one. In this article, we’ll cover steps to take when choosing an IT partner and things to consider to ensure you’re choosing the right IT partner.
IT Partner: What is it?
In the age of digital transformation, companies often establish relationships with IT partners to help them recommend, architect, implement, manage, and optimize their technological systems.
IT partners work closely with companies to ensure they have the best advice and tech support for both internal and customer-facing systems; creating new efficiencies, improving customer experience, and ensuring all systems are secure and available from every standpoint are just a few of the things an IT partner can do.
As for why companies need a technical partner, the answer is quite simple. The business technology landscape grows more complex day by day, creating the need for highly specialized expertise. Even organizations with an in-house IT team often need to outsource things like cybersecurity, software development, or specific managed services.
To stay competitive and compliant, choosing the right technology is essential. Working with an IT partner helps organizations access high-level advice while freeing up their time so they can focus on running their business.
Why You Should Choose the Right IT Partner
Now that you know why you need an IT partner, let’s talk about choosing the right IT partner for your needs.
The truth is, there are hundreds—thousands, even—of technical partners to choose from, each with its own range of services, specialties, and experience. Since it’s a massive playing field, there are many potentially good or bad choices.
The right IT partner for a colleague might not be the best one for you, so it’s important to know what to look for, and perhaps more importantly, what to beware of before you commit. Choosing wisely can elevate your efforts and increase your bottom line. An unwise IT partnership could exhaust a lot of resources, cause a lot of stress for you, and not deliver the ROI you want or need.
Here are some of the things that can happen should you choose the wrong IT partner:
- Unstable or unreliable technology. If your apps, website, and systems are unstable or don’t perform well, your customers likely won’t hesitate to look elsewhere to have their needs met.
- Cybersecurity vulnerability. Gaps in your security framework invite malicious attacks or increase the chances you will be affected by a security incident—which could cost millions to recover from.
- Not enough focus on the core business function. If your IT partner doesn’t have experience with your industry, they might not fully understand your needs or the best solutions to implement.
- Poor use of resources. If you choose your IT partner based on price alone, you might be compromising the results. Conversely, you could be paying for services you don’t need and creating cost inefficiencies. You need to understand the actual cost of your IT support to ensure it meets your needs and satisfies your budget.
- Inadequate customer service and support. It’s essential to have a single point of contact. Otherwise, your operations are at risk. Any delay in managing issues could lead to loss of productivity, loss of revenue, and could impact your reputation, not to mention your business continuity.
Steps for Choosing the Right IT Partner
To ensure success in identifying a good IT partner, consider these steps:
1. Make a list of your needs and expectations for the project and the IT partner
Consider your goals for each project and list the technical needs attached to each one. Your ideal IT partner needs to be able to deliver those capabilities for the project to be a success.
2. Research potential candidates with the right experience
Speak to colleagues, partners, and request input from stakeholders within the company to gain insight into companies or individuals that might meet the needs. Check references, speak to former clients, and request examples of past work.
3. Investigate price
It’s essential to have a pricing benchmark for the services you’re after so you can ensure value in the deal you make. That way, you’ll recognize when pricing is off—sometimes, when a deal seems too good to be true, it is!
4. Consider the location: local, onshore, or offshore
Local, onshore, nearshore, and offshore are all possibilities where IT services are concerned. The best choice for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Do you need to meet with them? Are they working with your development team? Time zones, language, and cultural differences can sometimes hinder productivity, and even if an offshore IT partner reflects a significant cost reduction, it might not be worth it in the end.
5. Check flexibility
You need to know that your technical partner will prioritize your projects and be able to meet timelines. Changes are inevitable, so flexibility and adaptability are essential.
6. Check expertise
You choose an IT partner based on their ability to meet your technical requirements. You wouldn’t hire a web developer to handle cybersecurity, for example. Be sure your provider has a verifiable background in the areas you need.
7. Check communication skills
Transparent communication is essential in any outsourced partnership. If a potential technical partner doesn’t respond or communicate well from the start, it’s a major red flag.
8. Take a look back
Once you have gone through the steps and identified the best IT partner for your needs, be sure to revisit each point to be sure you considered everything. After that, if you feel that everything is good, consider yourself lucky to have the right IT partner.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Right IT Partner
To help narrow your choices in technical partners, here is a list of things to consider:
Knowledge and Expertise
Ensure your IT partner’s experience, and expertise aligns with your needs. Consider where you’re at right now and where you want to be in the future. You’re establishing a relationship, and ideally, you want to know that your new partner will grow with you.
Like any healthy relationship, good communication is a must-have. Establish how you’ll communicate with your IT partner, what platforms you’ll use to collaborate, and the frequency of communication. Identify the stakeholders from the start to forge pathways to success.
Cultural and Environmental Fit
Your new IT partner must understand your business goals. To ensure success, they must work closely with you and your internal teams, which means everybody needs to share the same work ethic. Ideally, you’ll choose a partner whose culture fits seamlessly with yours, so you don’t have to waste any time getting up to speed.
What you pay for IT services should prove value, have a measurable ROI, and reflect your budget. Be sure you’re paying for the services you need and that the pricing is benchmarked against other providers in the industry.
Transparent Working Process
The ideal IT partner should work closely with you, be open to feedback, and be completely transparent about their working process. Transparency fuels ideas, drives innovation, and helps you focus on the things that really matter.
In conclusion, choosing the right IT partner is an essential step in ensuring your company’s continued growth and progress. Use this article as a checklist as you expand your search, and choose with confidence.