Is it okay to change IT partners midstream?

Darryl Thomson Director of Managed Services
Is it okay to change IT partners midstream?

Are your outsourced IT partners industry thoroughbreds? Or skittish on delivery? Darryl Thompson, Director of Managed Services, considers the questions you should be asking to benchmark the real value of your relationship.

Don’t change horses midstream. It may be a cliché (one attributed to Abraham Lincoln back when elevators and the telegraph were leaving common folk awestruck) but does it still hold true today?

No longer a fringe curio, technology in general (and IT more specifically) is now indivisible from innovation, operations, and economic growth. As organisations jockey to stay nimble and competitive, the decision to outsource IT services is an indispensable business function.

So, how do you know if your partner is of real value, or skittish on delivery? Here’s our outsourcing checklist; the questions you should be asking to benchmark the real value of your relationship.

Six questions for benchmarking partner value

1. Are you seeing bang for your buck? Any IT partner worth their salt should lighten your in-house IT burden, shrinking the need for bloated in-house IT staff, equipment, and training. The upshot? Optimised budgets. Even if budgets are lean, your IT partner should be able to help you move CAPEX to OPEX (or vice versa), give you access to better pricing with vendors, or labour arbitrage that your business simply doesn’t have access to.

2. Are they the smartest guys in the room? Partnering with a reputable IT service partner grants access to a diverse pool of skilled professionals – experts that should bring years of industry experience, best practice, and up-to-date knowledge, ensuring your IT infrastructure remains robust and innovative. MSPs are often better positioned to attract industry experts who want to work with other skilled professionals than your business might be. Take advantage of that. Missing opportunities to improve overall business efficiency and accelerate growth.

3. Do they flex and scale? Outsourced IT services are designed to scale according to your business’s needs. As your organisation grows (or experiences fluctuations in demand), your IT capabilities should be able to seamlessly expand or contract without the burden of resource management.

4. Are they serious on safety? Cyber threats are a constant concern in today’s digital landscape. Reputable providers have the expertise to implement rock-solid cybersecurity measures, protecting your sensitive data and critical systems from evolving threats.

5. Is there anyone there? Technical issues don’t call ahead. They can (and will) strike at any time, disrupting operations and impacting productivity. You need to know that when your people pick up the phone, your partner will answer first time, every time, providing prompt issue resolution and minimising downtime. Your partner’s Major Incident Response Team should be adept at handling the intricacies of complex service disruptions to ensure your business gets back on its feet quickly.

6. Are they innovative and agile? Stand still in today’s technology-driven world and it’s likely you’ll fall behind. Outsourced IT services should inject fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to your organisation, enabling you to adapt quickly to market changes.

This is by no means a definitive list. Just some of the big ticket dealbreakers. Go ahead and build your own. But if your IT leads have a legitimate and long-running beef with two or more from your tick list, perhaps it’s time to start asking: are these guys my guys?

When your partner goes rogue

Bringing down the hammer to break an existing agreement is no small ask. There are the sunken costs; the binding agreements; the time, energy, and money that a reboot with a new partner would demand.

But if you’re not obtaining the desired outcomes, it might be time to re-evaluate your approach. Start by assessing your current provider’s performance against the promised benefits. Are they delivering on the agreed-upon SLAs and KPIs? Are you getting the business value you expected? If not, consider the following steps:

1. Initiate regular performance assessments: Establish a system for regular performance evaluation (governance) at all levels of the engagement, from daily service delivery stand-ups to quarterly strategic reviews. This allows you to monitor your provider’s progress, address any issues promptly, and adjust as necessary.

At Brennan, our approach is calibrated to service delivery excellence. Regular assessments overseen by Account Managers benchmark performance against SLAs, provide risk registers, and track progress on IT roadmaps.

2. Redefine clear objectives: Things change quickly, and the contract that looked hunky-dory when you signed last year may no longer be fit for purpose this year. Revisit your goals and expectations and communicate these transparently to your current provider to ensure alignment.

Before we even consider proposing solutions, we listen. Our pre-sales and practice specialists focus on your needs and goals. And every solution contains clear lines of accountability, underpinned with KPIs and SLAs.

3. Get renewal ready: If the service levels still aren’t hitting the bullseye, don’t let contract renewal catch you out. Open your calendar, mark down the days to expiry, then use the remaining time to absorb your learnings and inform your next steps. What worked? What didn’t? Were your expectations realistic? What would you do differently? Your answers should arm you with all the firepower you need to engage with fresh candidates and sort the sheriffs from the cowboys.

Remember, switching IT partners is a significant and potentially costly decision, and it’s crucial to approach it with careful consideration. But by drawing on past experiences and learnings, you can make informed choices that align with your current and future business needs.


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