Technology providers go by many names, including resellers, helpdesks, consultancies, hosted service providers, cloud service providers and combinations of. Looking at websites, it can be difficult to tell one from the other. So, what should you be looking for in a technology partner and how do you select one that’s right for you?
1.Ability to Deliver – the minimum expectation for your technology partner is that they have the ability todeliver the services you require. Perform due diligence to ensure this is the case. Ability to deliverincludes having the necessary technical expertise, staffing and processes to provide a reliable service.Look out for ISO certifications as these indicate a process managed business. Talk to existing customers tounderstand their experience and ask them about their partnerships. Talk to the provider to understandtheir standard range of expertise.
2.Trusted Partner – you should be able to trust your partner to provide suggestions and recommendationsthat are beneficial to you and the business. Trust builds over time, but the relationship should quicklymove beyond seller and buyer. The partner should be able to articulate advantages and disadvantagesand help you arrive at an informed decision irrespective of the value of any purchase.
3.Range of Services – IT managers have different attitudes to how they manage their providers, somespecifically limit providers to individual services. Providers tend to offer a range of services which canbenefit IT managers as they have fewer providers to manage and form deeper relationships. Manyproviders will forge partnerships to enable them to offer additional services such as connectivity or cloudservices. It should not be detrimental to the customer that they use partners, and can be more costeffective than buying direct. You should understand how their partnerships are structured and confirmyou will get at least the same deals and pricing as going direct.
4.Customer Management – this is an area where the provider can really differentiate themselves from thecrowd. Question how they intend to manage your account. You should expect a dedicated, proactiveaccount manager who will regularly review services with you to understand their effectiveness anddiscuss any improvements or changes. They should deal with any issues that arise quickly and efficiently.Essentially, they should be an extension to your IT department.
5.Pricing – cheaper is not necessarily better. Bear in mind the provider needs to run a successful business tooffer the services you want in the manner that you want to consume them. You should always look to getthe best value for money that you can but that includes the quality of service you receive.
Finding new technology partners that provide the services that you want is difficult and time consuming. Certainly, you do not want to constantly chop and change. Ensure that your investigation of potential partners goes beyond the technical certifications and number of staff. Look at how they are trying to differentiate themselves and the benefits you get over and above the basic service.