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Business trust on a handshake and smile

Posted by Chad O'Connor  November 8, 2013 11:00 AM

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Four Questions to Ask Yourself When Seeking an IT Partner

Bootstrapping a startup from scratch requires a lot of time and energy. An often overlooked, but critically important component to any organization’s success begins with information technology management. Whether you’re getting a company off the ground or running an established enterprise, clear communication and integrated IT operations are essential.

As a senior executive of an IT managed service provider, I am responsible for ensuring that both current and future clients are utilizing their IT systems to the fullest. Startups are keen on building IT infrastructures that enable them to hit the ground running and implement solutions that help them focus on research and development. An issue however, is that they often have minimal credit with which to work. In these situations, what is needed on the part of the vendor is the confidence to take a leap of faith and commit to a deal with a simple handshake and a smile.

If you are a startup looking for an IT partner, it is important to identify one willing to work with you on planning and strategy long before actual IT support is required. This will be a benefit far down the road and help you focus on what you do best -- making your business thrive. Here are four key questions to consider when choosing a trusted IT partner:

1. What is their business history, including their most pertinent successes?

2. What is the scope of their experience? The needs and pace of a startup environment are vastly different from those of a large corporation.

3. What is their overall reputation and what do former customers say about them?

4. What type of technical support services do they offer and do they match my business’s needs?

Back in 2009, Conduit Systems was engaged by Augmenix (another Amar Sawhney startup – i-Therapeutix, Confluent Surgical and Focal, Inc.) to help them transition from the reactive, break-fix IT support model, to a more proactive, forward-looking IT strategy. This approach allowed them to grow unencumbered by technology issues. Acting as a strategic partner with management, we made sure their corporate goals were fully supported by the IT portion of their business.

The trend continues to catch on. Research shows companies, especially in their initial stages of growth, are trying to limit costs by way of partnering with managed service providers. The Society for Information Management’s (SIM) annual CIO survey predicts hardware spending, consultants, and internal staff is expected to fall this year compared to 2012. The survey also predicted that when the dust clears, outsourcing will have jumped 17 percent by the end of 2013.

Startups and enterprises alike need the peace of mind they can grow and expand their businesses without worrying whether or not their IT infrastructure is up to the task. Upfront risks taken on the part of the IT service providers in the short term can provide this while also yielding significant long-term ROI.

Few would argue that a handshake and a smile are a great combination for business development. It costs zero to extend a hand and flex a few facial muscles. The value it generates is priceless.

Dan Tully is Executive Vice President of Conduit Systems.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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