How to Make Sure Your In-House IT Team and IT Support Provider Work Effectively Together
For some businesses, a simple choice can be made between whether your IT support provision is something you deal with in-house – or contract out to an external provider. In cases like this, the chain of command, reporting structure, and set of core driving values are the same throughout the team.
The trouble is, businesses today are rarely this clear cut when it comes to IT. Having an in-house team is a fantastic prospect – but it’s costly – and relying on an external team 100% might leave you missing that ‘hands on’ kind of care that’s sometimes needed when you’ve got a small to medium size team of employees at their computers each day.
Increasingly, this balance between in-house and external support is one that businesses are working with – but it’s not always plain sailing. If you want to make sure the two sides of your IT support work well together, you need to make sure you’ve ticked a few important boxes.
Are the two teams’ values aligned?
Chances are, you’ve got a core mission statement or set of ideals that inform the way you and your wider team do business each day. This is great – but IT teams can sometimes feel like they’re outside of these goals.
Well, it’s all about the role they perform. Needless to say, your sales, accounts, and marketing people probably wouldn’t be able to do their jobs without the devices and network they need – but that can leave a bit of a disconnect. Is your IT team there to help drive the business forward? Or are they humble servants of the people who are ‘doing the real work’?
It’s important that your IT team is seen as a crucial part of delivering what you do –and in turn, it’s important that an external provider and their staff fit into this way of working too. IT support can sometimes feel like a team of people you begrudgingly call when something goes wrong – but it’s important to foster a sense of togetherness that sees you working towards a shared goal.
This might mean getting your external provider in on calls that won’t necessarily impact what they’re doing immediately – but if you can make sure your IT teams work as one towards the same goal the rest of your business has in its crosshairs, then you’ll avoid any issues or confusion about priorities moving forward.
Who’s leading the way?
Of course, as much as it’s nice to feel part of a team – you almost certainly need people who are making the decisions and steering the ship. These lines of command can look a little blurred when you’ve got external providers in adding to the complexity of your team structure – so you need to make sure there’s no room for error.
Every time there’s an IT decision to be made, make sure the full team understands who’s made the decision, why it’s been made, and who will be issuing further orders or requests moving on from there. While initiative is good, it can be extremely disruptive to the larger business if people are making decisions that don’t work with longer term goals in mind.
What does the reporting structure look like?
When you’re working with an external IT provider, it’s essential that they’re working with a similar reporting structure as the one your in-house team works with. IT generally needs to move forward as one – as business networking rarely works seamlessly as independent ‘nodes’ each doing their own thing.
Create a reporting structure and make sure it’s adhered to by in-house and external teams alike. That way, there’s no room for error, gaps, or missed opportunities to get things right.
Are tasks clearly defined?
Today, a growing number of cloud-based project management tools make it fairly simple to attribute tasks to certain people – but when you’re working with a team who might fall outside of your normal project management structure, there’s room for confusion.
Make sure every task that’s required of your in-house or external team is mapped out in exactly the same way – even if that’s doubled-up by an external provider using their own methods. This way, you can take a quick look at everything that’s happening in your business and know it’s on-track, whether you’re dealing with it yourself – or outsourcing it to your partner company.
Is communication simple?
There’s nothing particularly ‘tech’ about this next suggestion – it’s as simple as making sure your two (or more) teams are talking to each other regularly and effectively.
It might sound like common sense – but it only takes a few days or weeks to slip by before communication becomes strained and things get missed. If you’ve got tasks and projects siloed, it can sometimes feel unnecessary to keep everyone in the loop – but when it comes to IT, there’s no harm in making sure everyone knows where everyone else is and what they’re working on.
Do your teams understand each other’s points of view?
It’s very easy to make assumptions about what other peoples’ roles involve or what their day looks like – but if you’re not careful, these are situations that can lead to resentment or division between each side of your IT provision.
Clearly mapping out what each team does is an important part of helping teams understand what their counterparts are doing on a day-to-day basis – but you shouldn’t hesitate to actually bring the teams together and have them shadow each other as a way of beginning the relationship. IT systems are rarely the same from one company to another – so there’s nothing that quite compares to having teams that understand the complexities of each others’ tasks and the unique challenges they face on a day to day basis. You might not quite get interchangeable team members as a result – but they’re likely to know what to expect of each other and where to turn if they need some support if they’re fully informed about the IT experience throughout the business.