Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Using An IT Company alongside Your Internal IT Resource: Best Practice Tips

Is it possible to combine an external IT partner with your own internal IT team? What are the best practice tips that make it work?

Is it possible to combine an external IT partner with your own internal IT team?

How can you organise it successfully so important work doesn’t fall through the gaps?

And what about managing the relationship?

What are the best practice tips that make it work?

The Grant McGregor team are a flexible bunch. We’re always keen to support our customers’ favoured ways of working. But one question we get asked a lot is how to manage the relationship with us when you already have an IT manager or a small IT team onsite.

In this blog, we’ll talk you through some questions of our own in order to help you find the right answers for you.

Why do you need an IT partner to work with your internal team?

Why are you thinking about outsourcing part of your IT function? Is it to access specialist skills that would be too expensive to develop in-house? Or because there's so much to do?

What do you want your new partner to deliver? Is there a particular skillset where your internal team is lacking? Why have decided not to recruit or upskill to fill that need?

When you are clear about your strategy – and the reasons behind it – everyone knows exactly where they stand, which can only be beneficial for the relationship.

We really want to understand if you have concerns about managing the relationship with your IT partner; only then can we address those concerns. For example, a bad experience with another supplier can be addressed through customer feedback and evidence of good experiences. A suspicious IT team will need reassurance and open dialogue.

Whatever the case, the clearer you are about your motivations for augmenting your internal team with our services, the better all the various relationships will be. We don’t want to start out with any confusion or mistrust between any of the parties involved.

What do you want your IT support company to deliver?

Your motivations for “why” will tell us some of the “what”.

Building on this, we will want to fully determine the strategy. Defining your strategy can be as simple or as complex as the situation demands.

For larger and more complex requirements, you might want to define a target operating model. This sets out the desired way of working in a way that everyone understands the people, technology and processes involved.

Deloitte(1) explains, “The primary purpose of a Target Operating Model is to enable the application of a corporate strategy or vision to a business or operation. It is a high-level representation of how a company can be best organised to more efficiently and effectively deliver and execute on the organisation's strategy. Moreover, it provides a common understanding of the organisation by allowing people to visualise the organisation from a variety of perspectives across the value chain as every significant element of business activity is represented.”

For smaller businesses, defining the strategy might need only a series of bullet points.

Who is going to be responsible for the delivery of each IT responsibility or task?

While the target operating model operates at a strategic level, the RACI takes care of the tactics. A RACI matrix is “the simplest, most effective means for defining and documenting project roles and responsibilities,” according to CIO magazine(2). By detailing who is responsible, accountable consulted and informed for every task, milestone and key decision, there can be no confusion about who should be doing what and when and who needs to know about it.

Grant McGregor has developed a clear model for co-managed IT services where there is strong delineation between different areas of responsibility and IT management. Why not request a copy of it?

Without this clearly delineated ownership of work, the relationship will soon start feeling the pressure.

How are we all going to ensure the job gets done properly?

With responsibilities defined, the next step is to set out how we going to achieve the stated strategy. Whenever Grant McGregor takes on a new client, we will follow our clearly defined, tried and tested onboarding process. We walk through a series of steps that:

• produces a clear understanding of your existing IT estate,

• identifies risks, and

• sets out any immediate actions that are required,

• as well as the longer-term plan for support and project activity.

Only by undertaking this comprehensive analysis of the IT estate and the work that needs to be done, can we begin to define the rules of engagement. In any IT partnership, service level agreements (SLAs) are a big part of this.

In addition, if we’re working in conjunction with an internal IT team, as part of the “how”, we also need to agree and define where our team sits within your internal reporting structure. Who will our team report in to? How regularly? How will issues be escalated?

When is the work going to get done?

Functioning as one team has to be the goal.

Clear, open and effective communication is key for preventing or resolving problems, providing clarity and direction, increasing engagement and improving productivity, as well as promoting team building, creating better relationships and building trust.

Establishing clear processes for reporting and escalating issues helps with communication, as well as ensuring consistent support and delivery.

Equally important is the two-way reporting mechanism that ensure everybody knows the current status of tasks, any issues or concerns are escalated effectively, and senior management can track performance and outcomes.

That’s why we have tried and tested systems and processes in place to take care of these things.

Where can we make improvements?

We encourage feedback along every step of the way. We build in a three-month regular review session with all of our clients, so we can continually build on performance and integrate lessons learnt.

We’re firmly of the belief that the best way to ensure we’re all pulling in the same direction as one team, is to make it easy to ask for help. Our team is always on hand to answer all your queries. In this way, we seek to continually build trust with open communication and consistency of support.

Would you like to know more?

Our team can talk you through these ideas in more detail, including sharing information about our phased onboarding process or our co-managed IT service model. To find out more, or have your Co-managed IT questions answered, please call us now on 0808 164 4142.

Further reading:

Deciding whether to switch IT partners: Does Better the Devil You Know Hold True for IT Support?

Addressing common concerns when switching IT partners: Six Common Worries and Mistakes when Moving From IT Suppliers to an IT Partner – And How to Mitigate them.

Questions to ask when selecting a new IT partner: Seven reasons why you should always ask any prospective IT partner what isn’t included.