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Please Consult Your Doctor...and Your IT Provider

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“Hey Ren,” came the voice over the phone, “we’ve decided to change our line of business application so we’ll need you guys to come in and set it up for us.” I slumped in my chair. “Why didn’t they tell us they were considering a major software change?” I thought to myself, “They don’t realize that they have chosen a product that is a poor fit for their organization. We could have shared our experiences with other clients using that product; before they signed the contract.”

I share this anecdote, not because I’m an IT guy looking for sympathy after being “snubbed”, but to demonstrate that the client didn’t completely grasp our role in the life of their operation. I guess we hadn’t adequately communicated how we could help in their decision-making because clearly, they did not understand that we held the keys to their IT kingdom.  And this scenario is true for every company that has a dedicated person or team looking after their network. 

Gone are the days when technology solutions are individual silos standing on their own without much interaction with other company systems. Today almost every business technology has a networking component that needs access to the local network or the internet. You may not realize what systems are vying for access to your network but the list can include telephony, WiFi, HVAC, video conferencing, door locks, lighting, audio, video security, visual media and more. This is where we, as IT professionals, are needed to orchestrate the interactions between the devices, software and networks in a safe and secure way.

The following analogy is another way to look at it. When you are considering over the counter medications for whatever ails you, you will notice the promises of the remedy are in bright, bold letters with a very convincing message. However later in the fine print you will find a statement something like “Please consult your physician before using this product.”  This is good advice, because while the medication may be a quality product meant to address the pain you are experiencing, there may be other factors that you don’t realize could cause more harm than good. Your doctor is needed during these times to help develop a safe plan of action.  

That same advice should be heeded for IT remedies and upgrades; however, you are not likely to find a sticker on that shiny new hardware or software that says, “Please consult your IT consultant before installing this product.”  And here is the point of this blog post; your best chance for success when choosing IT solutions is to involve your IT department, MSP, support company or consultant at the beginning of the conversation.  I really can’t stress this enough, any changes to your IT, even seemingly small ones, can cause disruption and grief if those solutions are not planned for ahead of time.

The client that I quoted at the beginning of this post had decided to change their key software a.k.a. their Line-of-Business application or LOB because they became frustrated with some of its functionality. The grass looked greener on the other side of the software fence and the client was enticed into a snap decision before they completed their due diligence.  Part of that vetting process should have involved reviewing the solution with us, as their IT support company.  Unfortunately, we could only get involved after the purchase decision was made and we worked hard with the client to make the transition as smooth as possible.

The sad ending to the story is that the next two years were very hard on that organization as the new “solution” did not meet their expectations and the impact had negative ripple effects felt by the dozens of staff members who worked there.  It caused more pain than it alleviated and if they had consulted us during the decision-making process we could have steered them around this pitfall.

So, to wrap up, I’m going to borrow a line from the movie Gerry McGuire that really sums it up best, “Help us help you.” And on behalf of all the IT professionals out there I make a humble request; please keep us in the loop!
 

Ren Giesbrecht