How to work with an external IT team
19 July 2017
One of the most common misconceptions which can put people off outsourced IT support is the belief that only an internal IT team can provide reliable, efficient support and ensure that any issues are resolved quickly.
This simply isn’t the case. The advent of modern technologies allow the vast majority of IT issues to be fixed remotely and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) hold external IT teams accountable for performance, response and fix time. Even those companies who have their own internal IT team can benefit from the support of an external IT team to take responsibility for day-to-day maintenance, provide additional help in the event of a crisis or to add or specialist skills to the team’s repertoire.
However, sadly this does not mean that every outsourcing relationship runs perfectly 100% of the time. Like any business relationship, for outsourcing to be successful there needs to be certain elements in place to ensure that both parties fully reap the rewards and benefits.
It can be daunting to place a business-critical function such as IT in the hands of a third party, but trust is essential for a smooth working relationship. Of course, you should take the time to find the right IT support partner, but once you feel confident you must trust that your partner will deliver.
The emphasis here really is on finding a “partner” and building a “partnership”. If you have an IT support provider who understands your business, your goals and is dedicated to ensuring that IT supports the achievement of those goals, you will have an infinitely better working relationship than with a provider who’s just focused on the cycle of break-fox.
Discuss exactly what the service will include, who is responsible for what and whether there is any flexibility for customisation. It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page. If one side thinks understand differently you will never achieve alignment, nor achieve the results you want.
Communication is vital for a successful partnership. While you should expect regular updates from your provider and to have a consistent point of contact, you should be open in your communication. If you have a concern then you should feel comfortable raising it with your provider. They should also be able to respond and alleviate that concern – or provide an action plan for addressing it. Constructive feedback keeps the relationship running smoothly. For example, your external IT team may have facilities which allow feedback upon the completion of a service ticket. This feedback is invaluable because it allows both parties to learn from the experience.
Both parties should agree what success looks like from the outset, as this will be the benchmark against which performance is measured. Use metrics to track the external IT team’s performance and their customer service – you want your employees to be happy with the service they are receiving.
It’s important to understand that outsourcing your IT support is not a once and done thing. Successful outsourcing requires both parties to work in partnership with a clear understanding of each other’s responsibilities.
Of course, it may be necessary to adjust the Service Level Agreement in the future, but the best part about having a true partnership with your provider is that you can have a two-way discussion and achieve mutual benefit.
By taking the time to find the right provider, aligning their service delivery and your goals, and ensuring open, straightforward communication at all levels you will develop a lasting business relationship which truly elevates your organisation.