5 key attributes of an effective IT Partner

Businesses seeking an IT Partner have a great number of options available to them. As more services become cloud based, such as Office 365 and SD-WAN, businesses need to work with IT partners to manage subscriptions, migrations and of course, ensure security is not an afterthought.

However, when seeking a company to work with, particularly a IT partner, there are several elements to consider, which should reduce the landscape and help you develop a shortlist.

As a leading UK IT Managed Service Provider, Digital Space understands the options available to businesses, and we pride ourselves on our ability to understand not what’s best for us, but what’s best for the customer. As a result, we’ve developed a list detailing the five key attributes of a IT partner that should be considered.

1. Vendor agnostic

Businesses approach IT Managed Service Providers usually, for one good reason, they have a challenge, or a set of challenges, that need to be solved. In today’s climate we see a rising number of agility-based challenges, as businesses need systems that can flex, and scale. We are also approached with security-based challenges, due to a combination of increased cloud solutions and a growing number of cyber security attacks. As an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP), it is not our role to lead a solution with a particular brand of technology in mind. It is our role to listen to our customers and develop a plan that is based on their resources, infrastructure, existing and future needs. Our plan must not only address the challenges our customers are facing, but they must tie in with the future of the business and its digital transformation journey. So, when researching an IT partner, be sure to articulate your business challenges. Short list potential MSPs that are vendor agnostic to ensure the proposal you receive is truly the best fit for your business now and in five to ten years’ time. A thoroughly researched and developed solution will allow businesses to shift services from cloud service to cloud service with minimal impact on operations. It will allow businesses to grow as fast or slow as the market requires. A good plan will leave no stone unturned with regards to security.

2. Transparency

Ensure the MSPs on your shortlist are transparent with regards to their capabilities. You might find that you are offered a full solution, but the reality is that many MSPs outsource specialist skillsets to third parties. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but make sure you are aware of who is managing what aspect of your project, or you might find accountability becomes a grey area. Digital Space is in the fortunate position of being one of very few UK IT Managed Service Providers who can manage every element of your business IT infrastructure, from public and private cloud, through to your end users. We also have the ability to deliver private WAN connections so you can be sure that every one of your IT Managed Services is being handled by one team. Our customers enjoy our transparent approach to project management. Migrating operational services can be highly stressful. Therefore, understanding who is performing which task is crucial for any IT Director or Project Lead.

3. Finger on the pulse

A recent survey showed that more than 40% of corporate businesses were unaware of the forthcoming UK PSTN/ISDN closure. If your business runs any analogue service, such as PRI, BRI, ISDN or PSTN, which translates into analogue telephone PBX, fax, and even some alarm systems, then you should really start developing a plan for those services. In some areas, the cut off has already been made and analogue services have already stopped being sold. Ensure your IT partner has your best interest in mind. Read their latest blogs if they publish them. You could also ask your network if their MSP has made them aware of the ISDN closure. As the switch off grows closer, the volume of businesses that need to react to the change will increase. We want our customers to know about the change in advance. We can help them develop a strategy that will not only replace the analogue service, but that will open doors to greater and wider possibilities in the future. Many businesses may not be ready for a full cloud solution right now, that’s fine, but one day they will, and we want our customers to have solutions in place that will enable the migration with ease.

4. Social Proof

Ensure the partner you choose to lead you through your digital transformation is helping other businesses in your industry. As a UK IT Managed Service Provider with end-to-end capabilities, we can help almost any UK business with their challenges, but that’s not what our website says. Our website states that we work with sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, public sector and not for profit, hospitality and leisure, retail, and both professional and financial services. What we are saying is that these are the industries we know about and have experience with. We understand those industries almost as well as the businesses that operate inside them. How? Firstly, because our customers reside within those sectors and they come to us with their challenges. Secondly, because we listen. We let those customer challenges determine the solutions we propose, instead of trying to make a particular technology fit a wide range of challenges. That approach has allowed us to become service leaders for those industries. Our customers are our social proof, and where possible we back that up with real-world case studies.

5. Attention to detail

The challenges your business faces today are very likely not going to be addressed with a short-term band aid in the form of an out-of-the-box solution. But if you don’t address them today, there’s a good chance that tomorrow, the significance of those challenges will be even greater. Additionally, if those challenges are fixed with a short-sighted solution, you could face even greater issues in the future. Look for a partner that not only provides a plan to address your existing challenges but provides detail to support your decision now and in the future. Staff training is an area that is often over-looked. If a new solution is implemented, you need to know that you are getting the most value from that solution. Certification paths should be outlined and delineation between in-house IT and Managed Services should be clearly stated. It’s this attention to detail that provides our customers with a clear overview of the project.

However far along the digital transformation journey your business is, bear these five tips in mind when selecting your Managed Service Provider. Making the right choice should not only address those challenges you face, but also enable future projects, keeping your business agile, resilient and secure.

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