By Jay Mallory, Executive Vice President, ImageQuest
Have you ever dreamed of – but not experienced – a business relationship in which a vendor helps your organization take the right steps to grow?
You may be seeking a partner relationship with an entity that is really a supplier. A supplier sells you a product or service, and once you have purchased, their efforts mostly end unless the product or service has a problem.
A partner relationship with a vendor can be a beautiful thing – but as with any dedicated relationship, you need to choose the right partner. This is particularly true with an IT vendor.
Even when you have in-house IT staff, a partnership with the right IT vendor can make your IT team less stressed, more productive, and more strategic.
Here are some ways you will know you have the right partner in an IT vendor.
Did you learn of the vendor through referrals?
The business world’s best relationships start when a colleague or peer who knows you and your organization suggests you talk with a specific vendor. Maybe you confide in the colleague or peer about a problem you are having. Perhaps they have had a similar experience and can recommend someone who can help. Often a referral gives relationships a head start because the referrer knows both parties and can see a fit.
Is your vendor interested in your business and asking about growth plans?
Again, this is the difference between a supplier and a partner. Think of it as finding a car repair shop versus a trusted mechanic. The repair shop will fix your car and give you a bill. The mechanic will do the same but also mention that the brakes might need replacing in a couple of months or that the repair is not worth it, given the car’s condition.
A partner looks at the longer horizon for your business and helps you see what is needed ahead.
Do you trust the vendor?
A vendor willing to offer helpful, on-point advice is a good partner. You know you can ask them about something, and they will provide you with the best guidance, even if it may be counter to their financial interests. A vendor who always responds by steering you back to their products is a sign of a vendor in it only for themselves.
Do you feel the vendor “has your back?”
Is getting support taking forever? Are you not getting the right solutions and thus having continued problems? Are you concerned your vendor is not helping you meet regulatory IT requirements? These could be symptoms of a vendor who has shifted priorities away from you, a vendor who does not have the capacity to support you, or lacks the knowledge to provide you the right solutions.
Does your vendor understand your IT Compliance requirements?
Whether you are in a regulated industry yourself or have regulated clients, you must meet data compliance standards for your use, storage, transmission, and destruction of data. A quick way to tell if your vendor understands this is whether they have a SOC II Type 2 attestation, which indicates they follow best practices for data security in their own work and assets.
When planning a major initiative, would you turn to the vendor for guidance?
As your team identifies and plans new initiatives, you will need advice on the technology aspect. Is it automatic to reach out to your IT vendor to discuss the initiative and get their thoughts? Or do you think you have to turn to an outside consultant for guidance?
A vendor’s business expertise can be invaluable beyond suggesting equipment and software options.
Are they keeping your data secure?
Finally, an IT partner will work hard to ensure your data remains secure, your systems updated, your data backed up, and used in compliance with regulatory requirements. A mere vendor may sell you a security solution but does not stay in touch. Cybersecurity requires your solutions to maintain strong protection as your business develops and changes. A “set it and forget it” approach will likely get you a regulatory fine – or your data stolen – sooner rather than later. You want a partner who proactively manages your security and your regulatory requirements by assessing your risks on at least an annual basis.
Data and technology are a vital business element today, so your organization must secure a great IT partner. A managed IT services provider such as ImageQuest can be a great choice when seeking an outside IT vendor because their services focus on partnering with clients to meet all their IT needs.
A managed IT services provider can either be your IT team or add needed depth to your existing IT bench. Learn more by contacting us today!