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I’ve recently been working with a chain of chiropractic clinics who are growing fast – a real business success story and an exciting company to be involved with. As with almost any modern business, they rely on technology heavily to deliver a consistently good service – communications, data security, performance and the availability of support are all key if this business is to achieve its growth targets find out this here. Unfortunately when I met the business owner, there were 3 or 4 tech suppliers involved, a pretty huge list of issues – from niggles to operational problems, and as is often the case, all the suppliers were blaming each other. This becomes an issue when the business owner is trying to resolve these issues and suppliers routinely pass the buck, or worse still try to baffle with science in order to deflect the blame.
Unfortunately this isn’t an unusual issue for many small and medium businesses.
So you can see why I was brought in. – to metaphorically bash some heads together, use my technical background to make sure nobody was telling porkies and to ultimately make sure that technology wasn’t standing in the way of business improvement and business growth. It didn’t take long to unravel the mess, and ultimately we discovered that there was a gap in the services being provided to the business – nobody was pulling everything together and making it wok as a complete system. The connectivity providers were locking everything down tightly, the phone system people needed firewalls configured but didn’t know who to ask, the software provider was busy beavering away trying to resolve issues that were related to laptop configuration issues and in the middle of all this the business was trying to deliver its ambitious growth plans. In the end we worked with the company to appoint an IT Support Provider who now liaise between all the suppliers, pull everything together and in short, make it all work. The transformation has been brilliant – system stability has improved and things actually work the way they’re supposed to, the staff feel supported and no longer afraid of when the next system issue might happen and the business owner is free to concentrate on growth knowing that the operational IT is in safe hands.
So how do businesses get themselves in this situation? It’s not the fault of MD at all – every tech provider in the land starts their sales pitch with claims of brilliant customer service and service standards. The key is to treat new providers as you would any new member of staff – interview them, check references, ask for a trial period. Employers now have the ability to move new staff on within the first 12 months if they don’t perform, and businesses should be able to do this with suppliers also. Having assisted many businesses in selecting tech suppliers and service providers, here are a few of my top tips to avoid issues:
Appointing technical suppliers needn’t be difficult, and should bring a real positive impact to your business. Mitigate your risks, be clear of your contracted commitments and agree mutual goals with regular reviews arranged from the outset.