With 76% of businesses planning long-term IT changes this year and IT budgets declining, partnering for certain non-core services can help to reduce costs. In this article, I discuss how you might continue to deal with the important long-term issues when your resources are tight and probably focussed on urgent matters.
1. Business Development: Planning and execution
A lot has changed already and will continue to change but many of us are so focussed on the day job, and frankly, just surviving at present. It’s hard to pause, step outside, and take stock of the bigger picture. You know there is a better way to do things, but you are so busy doing things the old way that it’s hard to change direction. If this sounds like you, I would advise finding time for short engagements with a partner who can help you focus on a single key issue, identify the problem that needs solving, build a proof of concept, and then help you roll it out. Chess has adopted this agile approach since CV-19 started and our rate of delivery has increased significantly, with a much smaller internal team.
2. Training and Adoption
Many of us have found that even though we make changes to our businesses, and implement new systems and procedures, it’s really hard to get our people to adopt them. Add the rapidly changing functionality of online platforms such as M365 and it’s so hard to make sure that you are getting value from your investment. Then there is the expense of creating and maintaining your own training material and running courses. Working with an online training partner, you can pay a flat rate per user and access a range of prepopulated training material, add your own, and measure user engagement all from one platform that lives in the cloud so can be accessed from anywhere. We rolled this out internally about 2 years ago and have found huge benefits – especially since lockdown as more traditional training methods would simply not have worked with a widely distributed workforce.
3. Security: Managed threat detection and response
Internal IT departments have never been more stretched for time, and the skills gaps in many areas are expensive and hard to fill. One area you cannot afford to ignore is securing your systems. As I have said in previous articles hackers are loving CV-19. People working from home are much more vulnerable to attack than people working inside the company firewall. Simply having the time and expertise to identify and deal with attacks is often beyond our IT teams. Outsourcing to a partner can get you the reassurance that you need and allow you to focus on the important work only you can do, running your business.
4. IT: Supporting remote workers
At Chess, we now have 300+ sites to look after as compared with 6 before CV-19. This creates huge challenges for our internal teams as remotely fixing issues (even on the kit we supplied) is logistically much harder than when users can be easily accessed face to face. Add to that the fact that many users are coming to grips with a new Unified Communications toolset (Teams, Zoom, Onedrive, Sharepoint, etc.) for the first time. Simply supporting the extra needs of your users is hard. Outsourcing end-user support to a partner is a good way of allowing your IT people to focus on core systems, whilst someone else takes care of your users' needs.
Managing the motivation and engagement of a widely distributed workforce is harder than doing it on a single site where everyone comes to you. Having access to an online tool to measure user morale, activity, and performance is a real bonus. We adopted engageyourpeople.com 3 years ago and this gives us great insight into how our people are feeling, with sentiment reporting from every one of our people once a month. This means we can keep an eye on things centrally even though we are not meeting the people face to face anymore.