Don't Settle for an IT Vendor, Seek a 'Trusted Advisor'
By Charles L. Nault
IT has become an indispensible element of many businesses, so it’s imperative to find an IT partner for your company who will do more than just show up when something’s broken. But we’ve all heard (or experienced!) IT horror stories, and as a result you may have given up hope of ever finding a truly trustworthy IT partner.
But don’t settle! Keep looking because the right IT integration expert will understand both your network and your business, and thus will be able to advise you on which technologies are the right ones for you.
But how will you locate a systems integrator who is best suited to become your trusted advisor? Here’s how:
- Your integrator’s size should fit your company. We’re talking about a tight partnership here, so if yours is a very small company, don’t engage a firm that’s overly large. If you do, you’ll be insignificant to their business.
- Check up on references, and not just from the vendor’s top clients. Ask for manufacturer as well as customer references. Give ample weight to what you learn from each.
- Check your IT integrator’s certifications.Check too the number of implementations they have done involving the kind of solution(s) you need.
- Investigate partnerships.No company can do it all, so how will your IT vendor fill the gaps? Your IT advisor must be confident enough in its own abilities to forge strong relationships with other companies who can do what your advisor cannot.
- Assess if your trusted partner makes knowledge transfer a priority, i.e., is this vendor is willing and able to educate your staff on what they need to know in order to do their jobs? Also, ongoing support is crucial. More technical eyes than just yours must be watching over your new network and gathering the requisite performance information.
Overall, your trusted partner must (1) clearly understand your business and every aspect of what it provides to your company, and (2) be ready to provide tailored ongoing support. A trusted partner that fills these criteria will likely support you and your company’s needs. Then IT can truly become a genuine strategic advantage for your firm, now and in the future.
Charles L. Nault is author of Risk-Free Technology: How Small to Medium Businesses Can Stem Huge Losses from Poorly Performing IT Systems (Global Professional Publishing) and Chairman of the Board at Atrion Networking Corporation. A recognized expert in “network utility thinking,” he provides training and consulting while working closely with Cisco Systems on network design, implementations and support. Contact him via [email protected] or by visiting http://riskfreetechnology.com/