27 June 2023
Finding the Right Fit: Aligning Technology and Business
If there’s one lesson that has been proven time and again, it is that business problems are seldom solved by technology alone. That might sound strange coming from a tech company – after all, the industry isn’t short on hype – but much like when buying shoes, unless the fit is just right, you’re in for some uncomfortable steps ahead. Aligning technology to your business needs takes a little extra time and effort, but it saves so much later on.
Sometimes, the disconnect between business and tech is obvious.
Users are complaining, systems aren’t operating as they should, and workarounds are time-consuming. Often, though, people just become accustomed to the imperfections and stop noticing them. They manually enter data because that is how they were trained to perform a task; it is just the way it is. That’s why IT audits are so important – they uncover both the obvious and invisible causes of inefficiency and create a plan to address them.
Sometimes it pays not to follow the herd, even if it seems like an easy income stream. Many technology service providers will offer some form of technology audit, usually performed by entry-level staff, but we felt it was important to apply the lesson and place increased focus on aligning technology to business needs. We also chose for our TechAlign service to be performed by some of our most senior engineers, people with the most experience and a mind-boggling array of certifications. The value of those senior level resources works out to three times the cost of the service, so it is a great way to get enormous bang for your consulting buck.
A big part of the TechAlign process involves not just identifying every piece of software and hardware, identifying tech problems and making recommendations. It also involves a series of conversations, from workshops to interviews, with staff in every part of the customer’s business. We learn about the way they use and interact with tech, their frustrations and ideas. Technology, after all, plays a massive role in their efficiency. Often, they will tell us what they won’t necessarily volunteer to their business leaders. One new customer had invested heavily, to the tune of $250k, in creating a custom app for job tracking and had no idea how much staff hated using it. Some even left their jobs because of the impact it had on their morale.
There are plenty of prompts to take a closer look at the technology in place in a business.
Times of major change, after a period of growth, or as a regular action to make sure you’re not overspending without getting the full benefit. Many use it as best practice to verify they are getting the right results from their technology partner, or to verify compliance with industry or legislated standards. One of the most important times, though, is when you’re reviewing or changing your technology partner. In fact, when we’re taking on new managed service customers, we now insist on going through an audit first.
The reason for this is to achieve a better outcome. The current IT partner is often providing more than support. They may also be providing internet, phones, web hosting and Microsoft licences. Surprisingly often, the customer doesn’t have their passwords. Making an unplanned move is unwise, and when we run through the TechAlign process, we create a clear and accurate picture of everything in the customer’s environment, and we compare it with best of breed in similar size and types of organisations.
After that discovery phase, the TechAlign team builds out a technology strategy, and works with the customer to fine tune and prioritise actions, each designed for efficiency gain, revenue generation, cost saving or improved security. Without that clarity, we often see businesses reaching out for quotes from providers and each effectively quotes on a different service. Having a comprehensive understanding and detailed strategy means that quotes can be compared like for like, making it possible to come to a better supported decision instead of trying to compare apples and oranges. The report includes a maturity score, based on the current situation, that can be used to track progress.
Another big plus for going through the TechAlign process is that it makes onboarding – whether with TechPath or another technology partner – infinitely less bumpy. Much like the TechAlign service, we put our most senior staff in charge of each onboarding process. They make sure that on the first day, when the customer rings for support, our helpdesk already knows the environment, has access to all documentation, and yes, has the missing passwords.