Xperience

How to Get the Most from your IT Partner

The perfect IT Partner should be like the perfect spouse: unerringly trustworthy, in it for the long haul, and ever-present support when bringing little miracles into the world. A bedrock of the relationship—and no doubt the source of a headache (or three!).

After all, no-one is foolish enough to believe a marriage to be plain sailing.

Strategic Alignment

You must see eye-to-eye. As with the argumentative couple, if you are constantly pulling in different directions, there is no way things can end with a “happily ever after”. In simple terms, find an IT Partner who demonstrates a strategic fit.

In pinpointing alignment, you can collaborate with an organisation that shares the same market outlook as yourselves, prioritising core values that will drive both strategies forward.

Coupled with industry-specific expertise, you can be sure that your business problems are a key focus, increasing the long-term value of the relationship.

Moreover, if you can identify an IT Partner who shares common aspirations – whether international expansion, growth-focused or innovation-led – you can tap into their own learnings as much as being able to feed in your company knowledge.

We’re constantly reminded of the need to be more open in our personal life. It pays to bring that into business as well (the communication, not the dirty laundry!).

This feedback loop will be integral in framing yourself as a vanguard in the market. It will open knowledge sharing between organisations and will ensure that you fully leverage the insights of your counterpart.

Get Creative & Push Boundaries

Nothing drives a wedge-like overspending on the weekend with nothing to show for it. All too often, an investment in technology is seen purely as a solution to a problem, rather than as an opportunity for bigger things.

This approach is fine; however, clients may be left wondering what happened to their bank balance if they haven’t explored the full capabilities of the solution.

Most software offers fantastic opportunities for innovative use cases, providing new customer data sets that can feed into emergent strategies. While those in your organisation may certainly be capable of taking such strategies forward, many best-in-class adopters rely on an experienced Business Partner to showcase the full value of the solution to unearth such insights.

An IT Partner can provide a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of the software, highlighting the features that are relevant to a business unit and working with them to leverage the functionalities alongside the associated outputs.

You’re not only bringing flowers after a long weekend away; you are planting a seed that will grow into something much more impressive over the coming years.

A Healthy Focus on the Financials

We’ve all got that nosy accountant who likes poring through our bank statements. The bottom line: if the sums don’t add up, the project doesn’t move forward.

An IT Partner is an integral element in unlocking the full value of any solution, supplementing the business case with its own unique experience and industry-specific case studies. As with finding that helpful neighbour to help convince the other half that a swimming pool is a great idea, an IT Business Partner can be the support force you need to get this through the door.

By actively highlighting where the intrinsic value of the solution lies, managers can be confident they are putting resources in the right areas to optimise efficiencies as well as creating realistic financial projections in line with the capability.

While the bells and whistles are left for you to enjoy, the partner picks up the pieces to make sure the numbers add up. Perfection. Even the most competent of FD’s may struggle to ascertain the true value of an un-trialled technology, whereas an IT Partner can share their first-hand experience, both at the projection stage as well as over the long term.

Use their knowledge and be confident that underlying assumptions are an accurate reflection of reality. It will make life oh-so much simpler down the line.

Avoid Catastrophes

Wining and dining. Questioning likes and dislikes. Doing our best to impress, while praying things don’t topple over. Every relationship requires a great deal of effort in the first few months, but the excitement should always outweigh the cost.

You may think it bizarre, but technology is no different.

The learning curve is daunting as any new implementation has its own set of operational complexities: training, new process flows, updated business policies, etc. While these items will impact the wider organisation, the improvement to your days will more than outweigh the burden.

An IT Partner has a wealth of experience in all areas of adoption and has faced even the most complex of issues – from antiquated technology stacks to hyper-conservative security policies – and is more than adept at overcoming unexpected blockers. They are there to weather your storms, your shoulder to cry on, telling you it will be alright in the end. And it will— provided they have your back.

Common issues can take months to resolve, ultimately leading to spiralling costs and increasing pushback from the wider organisation. A Business Partner will understand how to manage each stakeholder, saving both time and money as well as maintaining motivation, while avoiding peeking Toms from fanning the flames.

A Different Point of View

Opposites attract, and we all love a dose of originality. As important as it is to find a partner who shares a common strategy with the same core values, there is much to be said about identifying a support resource that is willing to challenge the status quo. This is not someone you have to take home to your mother, so don’t be put off by visible tattoos.

Too many organisations are run off the premise of finding common ground to preserve the order, where there is nothing like a bit of reasoned argumentation to breathe life back into an old dog (no organisational aspersions here…).

An IT Partner could be the perfect objective sounding board to rejuvenate a project, stimulating discussion to progress flagging initiatives. Once you have found a partner you inherently trust, they should become an active participant in your most intimate meetings with their external perspective invited to combat entrenched beliefs.

Welcome the left-field perspective. It is often our weirdest friends who add the most excitement to our lives with their refreshing outlook unearthing seemingly hidden insights.
The right Business Partner will understand how to manage any new relationship and maximise the value they offer without causing unnecessary disquiet. By immersing yourself in the company of this valuable resource, you may see benefits that stretch far beyond the simple adoption of technology.

In with the New Skill Sets

If you’re hosting a dinner party, there is no shame in hiring some help.

You may be an expert entertainer, have pristine music taste and understand the importance of a well-dressed table, but when it comes to cooking and serving, these things can (sometimes) be better handled elsewhere. The same goes for business.

You may be the experts in the way you manage your data, have beautiful marketing copy or a strategy that has served you well throughout the decades, however, if you are lacking the specific resources to integrate a technical solution, then buying the ingredients online and simply hoping for the best is just not an option.

As with any brought in service, you are tapping into a discrete set of skills that your organisation lacks but would greatly benefit from having access to. Turnkey solutions are fine (meal-kit solutions have been great on weeknights!) but they are rarely optimal at scale.

By seeking the help of a dedicated partner who has the capabilities to not only integrate the solution but to help with ongoing management, development and support, then you are creating a new business unit – without most of the overhead.

You can evolve a business-specific solution that has many features that are bespoke to your enterprise, creating custom-integrations that streamline many workflows.

The Do’s and Don’ts of It All:

DO

  • Leverage your IT Partner for their expertise.
  • Involve IT Partners in key business decisions.
  • Seek feedback on process and integration approach.

DON’T

  • Assume your partner has no industry experience.
  • Leave key features of the technology to gather dust for lack of understanding.
  • Fear training, documentation, or the unknown. It will all come clear in the end.

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