As Practice Managers, General Managers, Office Managers — titles may vary, but the role of multiple hat wearer stays true and we salute you for the incredible jobs you are doing. Because, let’s be honest, its JOBS not job.
You are expected to be the IT Manager, Marketing Manager, HR Consultant, COO, Logistics and Events Coordinator, Procurement Advisor and so much more. And whilst we won’t be able to assist with most of your other roles, responsibilities and decision-making processes, we can try and assist you with the decisions you have to make around your firm’s technology requirements and how to better work with your IT provider to allow you to hopefully hang up that one hat. These are some of the things we think you can expect from your technology experts:
Jargon…Just Say No!
Technology providers are funny people — and not in a ‘hahaha’ funny way. In a ‘talk a different language and looks at you strangely because you don’t understand’ funny way. They don’t always understand how technical language and jargon can be intimidating and add to an already stressful situation.
It’s not just ‘okay’ for you to ask them to break down a situation in layman’s terms, it is what you pay them for. You pay a provider for a service and part of that service is to ensure as your firm’s multiple hat-wearer, you have a very clear idea of what is happening in your firm’s technology space. One of the main reasons this is so important, is because you should not let jargon get in the way of you understanding it.
It is really important to understand how things like cloud works, where it is being hosted, how is cloud versus servers onsite making your firm more efficient or productive and what are the cost implications. And this is just one topic, there are several others like your telephone systems, the security you have in place and how often you should have security awareness training done — all of these are important topics to understand and you shouldn’t let technical language or a provider that doesn’t want to explain these get in the way of you understanding it. If they are, you need to change — it is as simple as that.
Ask For References
You would ask for references before an employee joins your team, so why would a service provider be any different? Because let’s be honest, they too are joining your team and who better to tell you about how well they are delivering a service than their own clients?
According to Anton Thysse, Managing Director at CT Group, “we have worked extremely hard over the years to be synonymous with good service and solutions that solve our clients’ problems. With years of hosting and security experience behind us, we have seen it all and worked hard to prevent the pitfalls from affecting our clients. I honestly believe our clients would agree with this statement so don’t be afraid to ask for other client references”.
And not references on paper — ask for someone that you can speak to at another firm to be able to get honest feedback on the level of support they are receiving.
Most IT providers tend to specialise in different sectors and one of the main reasons for this is to actually be able to better understand the landscape that the client operates in and employ people that are capable to better support that sector. Each sector’s IT requirements are different — a good example of this would be Creative or Design Agencies versus Law Firms. Design Agencies mostly work on Apple products whereas an Apple laptop would not be something you would see in a Law Firm very often. The expertise required to support these will be vastly different.
Another reason for specialisation — from an IT provider point of view — is to be able to cultivate relationships with the application and software providers that service a specific sector. We have personally found that this allows us to better understand the products our clients use and the infrastructure or ‘environment’ required to ensure it is continuously utilised to an optimal level. We are also able to advise which application sets complement each other, depending on a firm’s environment and longer-term objectives. And whilst most Managed Service Providers should be able to support any business, regardless of their sector or the equipment they use, having those relationships between providers is something that can work in your firm’s favour.
Time Waits For No One
And neither does technology…it is a forever changing landscape and with businesses relying so much on it, it is important to change with it. Whilst COVID has forced most businesses to better understand the work from home requirements for their employees, it is something that has existed for years and IT providers that are only now offering these solutions might be a sign of reactiveness, which in the technology space is worrying.
To be able to hang up your technology hat, you need to be able to trust that your IT provider is adapting new technologies to both their own environment as well as yours and that they are continuously coming to you with new and improved solutions that are able to deliver your firm efficiency at reduced costs.
The reality is that we are only as good as the people, teams and support around us. And when you align yourself with a technology team that work WITH you, not FOR you, technology should become one less ‘hat’ you need to wear.
But definitely worth remembering that whilst your technology ‘hat’ might not be one that you need to wear, technology is an evolving space and will forever change. So, make sure even without wearing that ‘hat’, you understand it well enough to be able to recognise when your provider is not being proactive enough to cater to your firm’s growth and business needs in the future.
Image Credits: Cup & Crown; Ashley Winn Design