When you are down in the trenches in the day-to-day of your everyday business operations, it’s so easy to miss the big picture. That’s why so many leaders fall into the trap of setting IT goals that they can never actually achieve, especially when it comes to managed agreements.
Pair that with the fact that it’s not always easy to hand over control to an outside IT consultant and you have the two reasons why IT projects often fail. The professional comes in, thinks they understand the client’s goals, and they completely miss the mark. Projects are launched, and over time, fail because the company’s real challenges and goals were never fully communicated.
Whatever your kryptonite — communication, unrealistic goal setting, or the inability to relinquish control — the key to completing a successful IT partnership is to first take a step back and evaluate your goals (and limits) so you know what you are even asking for a solution for.
Ask yourself these four questions:
#1 - How much are you willing to hand off to a “professional”?
No one wants to have meetings just to have meetings, so don’t waste your time or your vendor’s time. How much are you really willing to allow a professional partner to help you with? If you already know that you don’t want to give up managing a particular aspect of your business operations, that’s ok, but be honest with your partner and tell them so. Embarking on an IT overhaul can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. You can start small, building a portfolio of IT successes, one goal at a time.
#2 - How much are you and your teams willing to change?
If you are ready to accept the help from a professional service provider, how will you accept the recommendations for change and implement them with your teams? Change could be hard for some within your organization, so being prepared to handle the objections from those affected is important. Once you have a plan in place, share the plan. If you are open about the changes ahead, the hope is that the naysayers will have less of a reason to have negative opinions.
#3 - What are the biggest challenges that your organization faces?
Optimizing your business operations starts with you. Your provider can come in and make recommendations that they think will help you, but if you don’t share the reality of your world, how will they ever really know what your own specific goals are? Perhaps paper is always slowing you down, employees need more efficient Help Desk processes, or your network is always slow during certain times during the day. Start a running list of all of the fires your IT team has to put out each day and prioritize them by the ones you want to resolve first.
#4 - Who are the stakeholders?
We’ve talked about this before, if your stakeholders ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Similar to how you will need to extend a certain level of trust to your professional services partner, the trust that your stakeholders already have in you must not be broken. Stakeholders can easily sabotage any project, but they can be extremely valuable in the discovery process. Stakeholders hold critical understanding of how your organization operates. Never assume you know how everyone in your organization works each day; ask them.
Whatever your goals, it’s important to communicate and over communicate them so your vendor knows exactly where you are coming from. It’s also important to share your vision of where you want to go. Business processes that are truly right-fitted for an organization don’t really come with an instruction manual until after a well thought out plan, with measurable goals, is developed. Success can only be measured with a final destination, how else will you know when you have arrived?