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IT providers come of age, as trusted partners for companies across the UK

COVID-19 has forced organisations across the UK to re-evaluate virtually every aspect of how they operate, from policies regarding remote working, to the security of their data. There's no doubt that the IT landscape has been fundamentally transformed by these challenges, as new innovations have been unveiled and deployed at an unprecedented pace. None of this could have been achieved without businesses and IT providers working hand-in-hand to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic.

The early successes of these partnerships mean we have seen a dramatic shift in how providers are viewed, with what was initially a matter of necessity now revealing new opportunities for providers and customers alike. Rather than simply delivering solutions on an off-the-shelf basis, IT providers are becoming trusted partners for the organisations they work with, working together towards mutually beneficial goals, while maximising their respective flexibility and agility.

However, this change in perspective means that IT providers are facing new challenges of their own, from which only the future leaders will emerge intact. This means choosing an IT provider has become a lot more complicated, as there are numerous factors to consider on top of price and service quality.

Here are a few points to consider before entering into any new partnership:

Do they proactively suggest new concepts and solutions?

Any strong partnership is built on communication. From your first meeting, a potential partner should do more than just present a boiler-plated list of products and services. They should take the time to understand your organisation, and the unique challenges you face, then tailor their products and solutions to meet them. This should be an ongoing element of your partnerships, not just an answer to short-term challenges. The digital landscape is evolving at an unprecedented rate, and organisations' requirements are evolving year by year. Your provider should always be on hand to help you navigate these changes, and work to develop their products and solutions in response. This way, your early successes will become the foundation for future consolidation and growth, with tangible business savings in the mid- and long-term.

Can they offer examples of other successful partnerships?

A trustworthy provider should have no problem presenting a diverse selection of case studies, showcasing existing partnerships across multiple industries, so be sure to ask to see them! In particular, look for examples of particularly specific and challenging deployments, where tailored solutions have been designed and delivered within extremely challenging timeframes.

Which accreditations have they earned?

In our current environment, accreditations are no longer a 'nice to have' – they are a clear demonstration of a provider's technical capabilities and compliance with all applicable regulations. Not only does this offer you an additional level of peace of mind, it can make it far easier to fulfil your own compliance obligations. Consider the following as your baseline:

  • ISO 9001:2015. This is the universally recognised standard for quality management and demonstrates a clear commitment to exceptional service and continuous improvement.
  • ISO 27001:2013 is the international standard for the security of IT systems. With compliance requirements around the handling and protection of customer data becoming more complex by the year, this standard is more important than ever. To further enhance this, the ISO CSA STAR certification offers a more specific set of quality standards for the security of Cloud systems, while the BS 10012 certification represents an even higher standard of data protection – essential for sectors like healthcare, finance and legal.
  • ISO 22301:2012. The need for effective business continuity has never been clearer. ISO 22301:2012 is the industry-standard in this regard – assurance that a partner will be able to ensure even the most serious incident impacts your operations as little as possible.
  • ISO 20000-1:2011. This an international certification for IT best practice, ensuring processes are fully aligned with business goals and customer requirements, including frameworks for independent assessment.
Above all, ask questions when evaluating any potential IT provider. A partnership built on trust, communication and evolving technical expertise will prove a powerful asset for your organisation, well into the future.
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