Help us help you: How enterprise IT teams can improve supply chain efficiency

When it comes to selecting a solutions provider, organizations today are prioritizing long-term support over cost. More than a one-and-done solution, they want a strategic partner that can help them tackle their current IT demands and work with them to identify needs they might not know they have, or that might not exist yet.

For a solutions provider, too, these are the best kind of customer relationships—true partnerships with organizations that take an active role in improving their IT environment, and that not only to ask, “what else can you do be doing for us?” but also, “what can we be doing for you?”

There are many ways that enterprise IT teams can work with solutions providers to take their partnership—and thus the efficiency of their supply chain —to the next level. As Jerry Maguire might say, it’s all about finding the best ways to “Help us, help you!

Here are three of the best ways to do that.

1. Maintain an effective IT asset management solution. In terms of hardware, traditional volume licensing software, and cloud-based solutions, nothing can be done efficiently without understanding the relationship between what your contracts entitle you to deploy vs. what is actually deployed in your environment.

As an organization gets bigger, it’s harder to maintain that understanding, meaning more money can be wasted through redundant purchases—or worse—audit remediation. Understanding the products deployed, quantities, and entitlements granted by ongoing maintenance is a great start. From there, efficient forward progress is possible.

2. Understand which other internal groups will need to weigh in on big projects. IT must constantly evaluate new technologies, which requires time, bandwidth, and expertise. However, once a solution is found, other parts of the organization—like procurement, corporate governance, information security, and others—might also need to sign off on a solution.

Whether it’s leveraging an existing licensing agreement or remaining compliant with internal company standards and policies, there is great value and efficiency in inclusion. A longtime and trusted solutions partner sometimes adds value by introducing like-minded groups to one another— often within the same enterprise. Knowing all ducks must be in a row, it’s actually in the solutions provider’s best interests to do so well in advance, with the help of the IT team.

3. Understand all the capabilities a solutions provider can offer. Anyone who’s watched a Microsoft Excel wizard turn messy columns of data into a glorious pivot table has had the same thought: “I never knew Excel could do that!”

Just like how most of us only use 20 percent of an application’s capabilities, many longtime solutions providers have capabilities you may not be fully leveraging. When was the last time you asked what your solutions provider could do? It’s possible that your “Microsoft guy” also has the ability to become your “AWS guy,” and you didn’t even know it.

By keeping regularly scheduled business reviews and periodically asking questions like “What services or best practices are you providing to other customers like us?” you can up your chances of identifying untapped talent and resources that already exist in a trusted and approved solutions partner. Keep those QBRs on your calendar, share your pain points, and challenge your partners to identify ways to do more for you. Their answers and capabilities will almost certainly surprise you.

Help us help you

Service providers will do what they can to make your IT experience more efficient, but sometimes a little help from the other side can push that efficiency to another level. Don’t be afraid to ask how to make the process more efficient. Odds are, the answer won’t be that difficult—simply keep your IT data organized and your channels of communication open. The bigger the business, the more important it is to help us help you by optimizing the partnership with your service provider.

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3 questions that reveal if an MSP is right for you

Back when managed service providers (MSPs) competed on price, choosing the best option was fairly simple – it was all economics.

But now many organizations are looking for more. Price has taken a back seat to customer service and the overall support model. Companies want an MSP that can become a strategic partner, one they can go to for advice, forecasting, and help with initiatives, goals, and objectives.

That choice is only made harder by the industry’s impressive growth, which has brought a number of new market entrants. By at least one estimate of the global market, MSPs are expected to take in $230 billion each year by 2020. That’s a projected 10 percent growth rate.

If your company is planning on partnering with an MSP, finding the right one is as much about choosing a long-term ally as it is finding one for your current needs. It’s a good idea to cast a wide net in your search, and to go slow when choosing a provider. Continue Reading…

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