Is there value in an IT partnership?

A photo of two men and a woman sitting at a desk and smiling at someone out of frame.

When you bring in a new IT provider or IT team, you may wonder, “Can they really help my business reach its goals? Or is this just another vendor?”

Many IT providers refer to their most positive, effective client relationships as “partnerships.” These relationships are mutually beneficial and built on open communication, shared expectations, respect, and trust.

However, a quality IT provider or internal IT team will offer many benefits, even if it is viewed as another vendor relationship. So do IT partnership relationships add additional value to your business?

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients. During that time, it has helped its clients build IT strategies and utilize technology to their advantage.

In all honesty, as an IT provider, WEBIT Services does feel that building a partnership relationship adds tremendous value. However, we understand that this dynamic may not work for all businesses and all provider-client associations.

You know your business and provider best. In that light, we hope this article helps evaluate and grow your relationship with your IT provider or team.

By the end of this article, you will learn how a partnership relationship is different, the potential values it brings, and how to reach this relationship level.

What is a partnership relationship?

Your relationship with your IT provider often takes on one of two flavors: vendor-client or partnership.

A vendor relationship is strictly service-based. You contact your provider for issues, concerns, and projects according to your contract agreement. If you receive the level of service you desire, you may find this relationship perfectly acceptable.

On the other hand, a partnership is a deeper relationship. Your IT provider or team is a trusted resource for improving technology and bringing an IT perspective into strategies, choices, and growth. This is built on mutual respect, trust, and open communication.

When a partnership isn’t possible

It’s important to note that a partnership relationship is not possible with the wrong IT provider. If your provider is not fulfilling their service agreement, it will be hard to move to a position of trust. Communication issues will also hamper moving into a partnership. Communication and accountability must be present in the relationship dynamic in order for it to grow.

However, if you work with a quality IT provider or team, your positive working relationship can grow into an IT partnership.

4 Benefits of an IT partnership

1. Your provider has a deep understanding and knowledge of your business

When you have an IT partnership, you’ve opened the door and allowed your IT provider or team to get to know your company, its systems, and its goals. They don’t just understand your IT setup; they know the big picture and see how IT fits into your business holistically.

Deeper knowledge about your business allows your IT provider to tailor IT strategy and projects uniquely to you. As a result, strategies and recommendations are no longer one-size-fits-all.

For example, when crafting an IT incident response plan, your provider needs knowledge of your mission-critical systems and contacts. As a partner, your provider knows why each system matters and how to prepare it for a crisis.

As a service provider, your IT provider will understand how your IT setup functions and how to improve it. But it will not completely understand your business and where IT fits into the big picture.

2. Your provider can more efficiently vet vendors and products

Because an IT partner understands your business, it can more easily and efficiently vet vendors and potential technology purchases. A provider or IT team in a partnership better understands how your technology affects your business goals.

When you need new technology purchased, your IT provider or IT can determine possible matches more quickly than a provider who is not an IT partner. This speeds up the technology deployment process.

For example, an IT provider who partners with you knows exactly how you and your teammates use your laptops. So, when new laptops are needed, your provider already knows the specifications you need to accomplish tasks. For instance, are you editing images or filling out spreadsheets? A computer holding several image files and editing software will require more hard drive space and RAM than one needed mostly for spreadsheets.

3. Your provider offers a technological perspective to help you reach your business goals

Technology has become an integral part of modern business. Therefore, when your business experiences change, your technology should grow and change with it. With this in mind, your IT team or provider can offer technology-focused strategic advice.

For example, suppose your company purchases another business. In that case, your IT provider or team can provide advice and perspective on how IT affects the transition and how quickly technology can be ready.

For instance, your provider may ask questions like, “Is the purchased organization continuing to use their technology, or are they transitioning to an IT setup like yours, or will it be a hybrid setup?” Once you have settled on an answer, your provider can create an accurate timeline and project plan for the transition.

4. You have a relationship of trust and accountability

Trust and accountability are the foundation of any solid relationship—personal or professional. When your IT provider or IT team moves from a service provider to a partner, they have established and earned your trust.

This often means that communications are smoother or more open. As a result, expectations align, and when you reach out to your provider with a project or concern, you know the issue will be resolved well and quickly.

There is less anxiety about IT issues because you know your provider is reliable and trustworthy. If you have a problem, it will fix it. If you have a goal, it will help you reach it.

How to develop an IT partnership

Building a partnership with your IT provider or team will require three things from both parties:

1. Open and honest communication

Both parties must communicate regularly and openly share concerns, insights, confusion, and, if necessary, disappointment. In addition, your provider should ask insightful questions about projects, expectations, and your business.

Insightful and honest communication will help both parties agree on strategies and processes and know what to expect.

2. Clear expectations

Both parties should be upfront about their expectations for the relationship, processes, services, and projects.

In some circumstances, reality and expectations may be at odds, and it’s best to get this cleared up as quickly as possible. If, for example, a client expects a project to be completed in three weeks, but it will actually take three months, this misunderstanding needs to be resolved at the start.

If your expectations do not align, your IT provider may not be an IT partnership match for your business.

3. Mutual respect

For a successful partnership, both parties must respect the other. They see and appreciate the unique perspective and skills both bring to the table, and they work together to help each other succeed.

A partnership cannot grow if one or neither party respects the other.

Next steps toward an IT partnership

If you have a quality IT provider or team, your working relationship can develop into an IT partnership. This partnership can bring additional value and benefits like:

  1. Your provider has a deep understanding and knowledge of your business
  2. Your provider can more efficiently vet vendors and products
  3. Your provider offers a technological perspective to help you reach your business goals
  4. You have a relationship of trust and accountability

To begin your journey towards partnership, talk to your IT provider or team about communication and expectations. Are you both communicating enough? How is the quality of the communication? What expectations do you both have?

If honest discussions don’t yield the relationship you want, it may be time to look for a new provider.

You may also revisit your IT roadmap to ensure your goals and expectations are on track. Your roadmap should be updated annually and revisited whenever a significant change occurs.

If your IT provider or team never created an IT roadmap for your business, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship. IT roadmaps are crucial tools for IT strategy, project planning, and budgeting.

If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.

If you are not ready to make a commitment but would like to learn more about IT partnerships, we recommend the following articles: