FPA Technology Services, Inc.
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Do you have an IT Guy or a Trusted Advisor?

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Before you ask yourself - Do I have an "IT guy" or a "Trusted Advisor"? - first you have to ask yourself, "do I care?" If you don't, then there's no doubt that you have an "IT guy". Regardless of what he's capable of, if that's all that you're ever going to see him delivering, then that's all he's ever going to be. If you do care, then even before you ask yourself what you have, you have to consider what you want.

My point is, it's quite difficult (if not almost impossible) for your IT Service Provider to be a Trusted Advisor if you won't let them be one. We run into this all the time. If all the client cares about is doing the absolute minimum, reacting to problems, keeping costs down (at all costs), and always thinking short term, then you're in trouble.  There's almost no way to be a trusted advisor to someone who doesn't want it.

The word "advisor" is an active noun. It implies action. It implies proactive action. It's professional. If you're not planning, then your partner can't be advising. To have a "Trusted Advisor" is a two way relationship. It requires involvement on both sides. For us to be a "Trusted Advisor", we literally have to be a partner with our clients in their business.  We can recommend till we're blue in the face, but if nothing is done about it, are we truly advisors? No.

Now, you have to ask yourself - are you willing to pay for it? If the answer is no, then we're back to "do I care?" If you are (willing to pay for it), then regardless of whether you actually have to (pay for it, you've just escalated the discussion up to a whole 'nother level. The fact that you are willing to pay for it will take you to the level where your expectations are higher and the demands you'll be placing on your IT service provider are higher. And this is key. But - "willing to pay for it" doesn't necessarily mean what you think I mean - paying more for our services. On the contrary, we often times advise clients to spend less on us by spending more on something else. We may ask clients to spend for a better solution so that our ongoing support fees will be less and their productivity will be more (long term thinking)

For you to take your business to another level, you need to be surrounding yourself with advisors who bring more to the table than what you may be asking for. You need someone who will add value above and beyond what you ask for, but rather - what you need. This is where your IT Service Provider is truly a "Trusted Advisor".

So, back to the question - do you have an "IT guy" or a "Trusted Advisor"? The difference could be the difference between your success and failure.

Business Before Technology - We Get IT!


Like a Weed - The Hidden Costs of IT

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How often have you ripped out a weed only to find it growing back a week later? Annoying, isn't it? As I'm sure some of you know, it's not because of any magical thing that's going on, but rather because the part we remove is only the part we see. What we don't see is really one of most important parts. This too can be said about the cost of IT.

When people think about the cost of their IT, they tend to think about only the costs they see. This would seem to be logical - how do you think about things that you don't know about? But the problem is - When people think of the cost of IT, and more specifically, reducing their cost of IT, most of the time they're thinking only of the costs they see - the cost of the hardware, the software, and the related service fees. Rarely, in my experience, do you really see clients considering all the "hidden" costs.

Some of the most obvious "hidden" costs are those associated with lost or reduced employee productivity, wasted dollars spent on poor investment decisions, unseen administrative costs, and costs resulting from poor planning. Drilling down further, a lot of these costs are caused by things like downtime (caused by insufficient budgetting for proactive maintenance), poor performing machines (reducing staff productivity), redundant work (increasing staff costs), insufficient training (reducing performance), over-extending the life span of machines (causing increased support $'s and increased replacement costs), and improper configurations (also causing increased support $'s). Some of these are soft costs (lost productivity impacting staffing costs) while some are hard costs (increased replacement costs).

Rarely do we see clients considering the long term costs of their short term decisions. It's almost always, how do we cut costs NOW! But the reality is all of these decisions go to the bottomline impact IT has on your company. And more often than not, the long term impacts are way more costly than the short term savings. If I don't stay current with patching all my machines, I can save some $'s this month (while fixing that infected workstation will cost way more next month). But again, I believe one of the key components here is how clients define the word "cost".

You can easily have a conversation with a client contemplating spending $100,000 on a new piece of machinery with a 5 year life span, but talk about replacing the $3,000 server the business completely relies upon BEFORE it crashes and it's like pulling teeth. Why is it that people are ok running computers into the ground but wouldn't think twice to do this with almost any other part of their business? Why is it so rare that a business owner strategically acts to take a proactive approach to deal with IT issues BEFORE they bring their company to a screeching halt? Again, it comes back to the definition of "cost" (ie: how business owners currently think about costs).

I believe a lot of it has to do with the oversimplification our industry (with Microsoft leading the charge) has done over the last five to ten years. Everyone still thinks these machines are like calculators or dishwashers. But the reality is, when something that could bring your whole company to a complete standstill is treated like this, these hidden costs will continue to have a bigger impact on profitability than they really should. We (as an industry) need to do a better job of helping our clients understand IT "costs" and the business impact of them.

So, before you yank that weed (ie: make a short term decision re: IT), think twice about what's going to happen when it grows back...

About the Author
Craig Pollack
Craig Pollack Blog Profile Image Craig is the Founder & CEO of FPA Technology Services, Inc. Craig provides the strategy and direction for FPA, ensuring its clients, their business owners, and key decision makers leverage technology most effectively to achieve their business objectives. Craig focuses on ensuring that the technologies implemented by clients are "business centric" and key components of their businesses' success, and that this approach is shared by every staff member of FPA.
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