A high-quality managed service plan will include a component that addresses your firm’s information technology strategy. Many managed service providers refer to this as virtual CIO (vCIO) services. It’s important to understand the actual role and services that should be included in an IT strategy regardless of the terms they use to define that portion of their coverage.
What does an IT strategy look like?
To truly leverage your investment in a managed service plan, the following services should be included:
- An initial comprehensive assessment of your firm’s current technology.
- Some level of engagement with your leadership team to understand your mission and your business goals.
- The formulation of your firm’s strategic IT goals.
- A three to five year projection of your IT budget.
- An analysis and reconfiguration of the operational processes that support business goals through the use of technology.
- Planning for and managing technology changes, including upgrades and updates of software and hardware.
One of the most critical components of your relationship with an MSP should be consistent and regular meetings with your leadership team. This meeting should include your MSP strategists and engineers to review the past period’s performance, discuss the technology roadmap, and evaluate the IT budget for the next three to five years.
What services should your MSP offer?
This type of strategic analysis and business planning should be a required element offered by your MSP. Unfortunately, this is another MSP service component where your expectations and what is delivered can be wildly different. You need to ensure that your selected IT firm has personnel with the requisite skills and experience not just in technology, but also in business practices. Your MSP should be:
- A resource that is highly available to you and any department managers who have questions regarding how information technology can be leveraged to improve the performance of their department.
- A resource which is focused on fully understanding the mission and the goals of your organization and will act as an engaged and purposeful professional service that brings ideas and pragmatic IT options to the table.
- A resource with a clear understanding of your industry and the commitment to stay current with technology trends that impact your organization. The ability to link technology to your business objectives is a must.
- A resource with a thorough understanding of IT project planning and management.
- A resource who fully understands that IT must support your business, not the other way around
- Finally, your MSP must provide a resource with experience in budgeting who can provide your organization with a current, well-planned, three to five year IT budget. This plan must be discussed and optimized at each business review based on changes within the business, industry, and IT developments. With proper planning, you are assured to optimize the value of your IT investments.
These skills may not be available as a single IT hire, but a professional and committed managed services provider must supply these services. This is the key to maintaining a close, effective, and profitable relationship with your IT partner.
For more information regarding business and IT strategic planning services, please give us a call.
Authored by Donald Nokes