A White Paper from
CFO Report: Four Steps to Get Your Time Back from IT
If a significant amount of time or money is spent fighting IT fires without a good way to measure and manage the value to your organization, then this paper provides a solution.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Techcare has been a top performer in industry peer groups, and is actively investing to address customer needs in the area of Managed Technology Support Services. Steve has participated in various industry and vertical market affiliations, including representing Venture Tech members on the VTN U.S. Advisory Council. Steve has been a speaker at various industry trade shows for the small business, Graphic Arts and Education industries.
Overview and Position
This increase in dealing with IT concerns comes at a time when the financial executive job continues to take more accountability in almost every company. These roles include balancing growth, risk, performance, collaborating with sales and operations, increasing regulatory requirements, strategic planning, budgeting, reporting, and a growing role in representing the company to key external stakeholders. If a significant amount of time is spent fighting IT fires without a defined mechanism or metric to ascertain its value to the organization, then this paper provides a solution.
Selective IT Outsourcing
1. Begin with What You Already Have
To review the assets already in place, auto-discovery tools are available to gather the key hardware and software installations. In addition, a review of these items in terms of their current utilized capacity and the growth plans for the company enable an initial view of the deployed capital and key gaps that may be present and need inclusion in the capital allocation plan.
In addition to capital, it is essential to have all of the right skills (people) and the associated processes to maintain the ongoing network integrity and facilitate the ongoing planned required by the business and known technology changes occurring in the industry.
Gaining the true benefits associated with the spend on IT, it is important to implement best practices around network management, equipment repair, user support/help desk, planning and budgeting, and strategic alignment with the company business plan. There are many skills needed, which are as much technical as business and financially oriented. Often, companies send their internal IT staff to training, but it is impossible to get them the depth of knowledge needed for managing the diverse needs and business alignment, even in the smallest of companies.
2. Identify a Strong Outsourcing Partner
The pricing model and related risk sharing are integral to the overall engagement success. Service organizations offering a completely fixed-price model place a stake in the ground and expect to be help accountable for results. These organizations typically have more mature best practices in the areas of network management and user support functions, allowing for investments in the business and financial resources needed to meet regularly with the financial executive to drive more current and future value from the investments made in IT.
Conversely, organizations that sell their time in some form of hours (time and materials, block of hours, fixed fee to a maximum number of hours, scheduled time onsite only on certain days, etc.) do not result in true accountability. It’s important not to misunderstand that although many great IT companies exist in the market, most are not truly “outsourcing” solutions. The primary differentiating characteristics relate to offerings based more on staff augmentation and hourly support packages. These approaches do not often result in the time savings needed by a financial executive, just a shift in payroll dollars on a fractional basis. In these pricing alternatives, there is an inherent conflict in the pricing model and the business objectives associated with accountability. These firms make more money with an increase in the customer workload (problem solving, firefighting, and rarely business and financial planning). If technology networks are critical to the business today and are planned to be more important in the future, then review the IT providers whose business model maturity will deliver the results and accountabilities associated with outsourcing versus the traditional hourly support, often provided at very similar total costs.
Advancements in network management software and the ease of internet connectivity has allowed those IT service companies that have vision and stability in capital resources to implement true enterprise best practices and implement them cost/effectively in nearly any sized company. These are the thought leaders in the industry and management teams that understand the importance of IT to a business as opposed to the importance of IT for IT’s sake. Pay particularly close attention to providers that offer such remote services but are not willing to do so for a fixed fee for unlimited support. This should be a red flag that the organization does not have the process maturity to accept the risk of service fluctuations.
3. Establish Strong Relationship and Communication Process
Outsourcing is a two-way street in which both parties put much at stake. Make sure that the organization you choose has a management team with both the leadership experience associated transitioning customers into their model. Allow a reasonable time for the interpretation and understanding of responsibilities and for expectations to align at both ends, especially if there has been a transfer of infrastructure ownership or employees to the outsourcer. However, there should be a defined plan of engagement that includes these more soft-skill oriented items, so seek to see this process and discuss with their existing customers.
Internal resistance is always present when implementing a change in IT management. Best practices related to service firm transition have proven that strong communications focusing on why this is helping the company today and into the future, “allowing focus on what the company truly does, and not myriad of processes, tools, and skills needed to run and lead IT” have noticeable success.
4. Business Intelligence - Information is Power
The information and reporting provided must be informative and actionable. It must link key issues to the business plan and also be developed to provide an understanding of the cost drivers and limitations of the operational processes. Given the integration of technology into current and future business processes, it is essential to establish a solid framework for the business intelligence needed to make proper and economical decisions. Companies lose control when they lose an understanding of the cost drivers and process limitations associated with moving the business forward.
About the Sponsor
Techcare assumes accountability for the management of a variety of Information Technology services including server management, security and availability of the infrastructure, end user support and help desk, hardware repair, and responsibility for helping link technology investments to your business plan.
All Covered Acquires Managed IT Services Practice of Techcare LLC ...more
Techcare recently recognized several employees for their outstanding performance during ...more
A White Paper from What Every Small Business Owner Must Know ...more