Finding the Right Partner To Help Make IT Buying Decisions
No organization has an unlimited IT budget. Some budgets are large enough that many of us would call them unlimited, or very close to it. However, most of us, no matter our size, small, medium, or large work through an annual budgeting process and are then required to stick to the number, the plan, and the deliverables. Developing that budget, plan, and deliverables list might be more difficult for small or medium-sized organizations due to IT staffing and other resource limitations. Acknowledging that truth, there are ways to stretch your budgets and extend your resources to help you make better IT buying decisions.
First, as I have suggested in prior postings, define your IT ecosystem and stick to it 95% of the time. This means identifying the IT cores such as operating system, compute, storage, and network vendors, database platform, Internet Service Provider (ISP) for all physical locations, and any other foundational IT. Why? When you limit the numbers of platforms, vendors, models, versions, etc. you must learn, support, manage, and contract with, you buy yourself time. Defining and sticking to your IT ecosystem allows you to create wash, rinse, and repeat processes that can be documented. Once documented, the processes can be shared, taught, and managed by the best resource.
Another benefit to defining your IT ecosystem is that many vendors offer free product consulting, online or onsite subject matter experts (SME), or try-and-buy programs that allow no question returns if the product does not meet your needs. If you are a regular customer, access to these resources comes more easily. By combining your best resource and the support offerings from your preferred vendors, you extend your team’s knowledge, skill, and work capacity without additional cost.
Second, research, interview, and hire your IT vendor partner. Yes, this sounds like work. It sounds much like the processes you endure to hire a new team member. This might even seem like a bit of overkill. However, great vendor partners can extend your team’s knowledge and capacity by bringing additional SME resources beyond those of the manufacturer. Moreover, a great partner will learn your IT ecosystem choices and help you make buying decisions that do not add to your IT support burden. A great IT vendor partner can also help you in many other ways not defined here, which is why you need to treat the selection process like a job interview. In essence, you are inviting this external resource into your IT domain so that they can help you meet deliverable requirements, just like a new employee. Why wouldn’t you put the vendor partner through an interview process?
Third, the skill and resource extensions from points one and two above can help small and medium-sized organizations make supportable IT buying decisions, however they do not make the budget any larger. While not causing your budget to grow, a great vendor partner and continuous buying relationship with your IT ecosystem manufacturers can increase what you get for the dollars you have. IT equipment manufacturers offer promotions, sales, and other discounts at various times of the year. With a great partner and good relationship, you will know about these events to get more IT gear for every dollar.
Ultimately, none of this is really free. You have to invest your time to define the IT ecosystem in a way that does not inhibit business needs. This is not a ten-minute task. It requires discussion across the organization to understand current and future IT needs as well as effort to match the needs with lists of potential manufacturers and perform the elimination processes. It is real work. Moreover, the effort to hire a great vendor partner requires additional time and just like an employee who can no longer meet organization needs, you may need to fire the partner at some point. The time to manage, evaluate, assess, measure, etc. costs something. However, the investment outcomes include better IT buying outcomes, more manageable IT systems, and the more IT for your budgeted dollars.
If you’re looking for IT solutions or help with your IT budgeting, contact iT1 today to learn more about our infrastructure optimization services.
Dr. Mike Lewis serves as Chief Information Officer, EVP of Informatics, Security & Technology for Trillium Health Resources, a managed-care organization serving more than 350,000 members in North Carolina. He earned his Doctor of Management degree from George Fox University and is a former MBA adjunct professor at Maryhurst University. Mike has worked in the IT field for more than 25 years with stints at IBM, Merisel, and Dell.
<< Back to Resources