We have previously highlighted the benefits of contracting with a Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO). This is most beneficial for middle-sized corporations that employ and oversee the basic implementation and maintenance of their networks (both hardware and software) but would be served better by an outside partner who can provide up-to-date, cutting-edge guidance in a rapidly evolving technical world. There are many companies, however, that lack the capital and expertise to manage solid technical implementation and maintenance of their software. For these companies, working with a Managed Services Provider (MSP) in the area of Software Asset Management (SAM) can be the perfect fit.
While working with a VCIO allows companies to establish a level of peace and security regarding the big decisions that impact their technological footprints, partnering with an MSP that provides SAM assistance removes the burden and anxiety of trying to stay on top of software needs – an aspect of your business that is fluid and changes rapidly. This benefit (increased peace and security) is widely recognized and is the main reason for the growth of such services. However, there are a few less well-known advantages that are specific to software management. Understanding these issues can make all the difference when you are deciding how to structure this important partnership.
These issues are best considered as responses to basic questions:
Are we as cost-effective as possible in the implementation of software?
Ironically, the first thing to disappear when implementing new software is usually cost-effectiveness. As the number of software programs within your business multiplies, the difficulties associated with understanding and managing such an expansion likewise increases. Many small companies, especially, rely on salespeople when they make their software purchasing decisions, but many large institutions do, too. While salespeople have an obvious incentive to understand your software programs and how you run your network(s), their bottom line is in making a sale. The bigger the sale, the better. Thus, they have no incentive to be completely open about all of the options – and they certainly will not peruse and provide you with other options, even if those options meet your exact needs. This is particularly true when individual component pieces are being sold to specific departments.
If one of your departments, such as a training department, for instance,) still subscribes to a legacy software program that is largely outdated, you are most likely going to look for a replacement when that program’s licence is about to expire. If HR is using a different software program that is relatively new and is on a different payment time frame, it is easier to replace the training department program only, rather than see if there is a program that can work for both departments. Expand this situation across the spectrum of your organization and you have a difficult labyrinth to decipher and analyze in terms of cost-effectiveness. Finally, systematizing subscription or other payment structures as much as possible can have a huge benefit.
Are we configured properly to take advantage of new technologies and systems?
If your human infrastructure is not cutting-edge in SAM, working with an MSP is a necessity. More and more technology is compatible with the cloud, IoT, wireless devices, etc. These areas were not considered when many older, common software programs were developed. Much of the need to manage software assets properly is a result of this new frontier and the necessity of upgrading software systems. Given the complexity of these new technologies and the relative inexperience of most business owners (and even IT managers in small to medium-sized companies), there is a critical need for software decisions to include outside input.
Are we capable of properly training our employees in the best use of new software?
This question might be seen as an element of the last one, but it needs to be addressed directly and as a distinct issue. Put simply, if you must contract your training after you purchase software, it is best to do so with a partner who has helped you choose the software in the first place.
As technology fundamentally changes how we do business, serve customers, and address security threats, organizations must reevaluate whether their current IT strategies are meeting their needs. The ITeam is committed to helping Calgary- and Alberta-based businesses develop proactive, cost-effective IT strategies that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Contact us to learn more.