Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What is a Partnership?

A vendor came a-courtin' today. I'm probably too critical on vendors when they approach me. It is so frustrating, as someone who's been in the business for a while and qualified to do my job, to see the attitude I'm treated with as a person involved in decision making. All too often potential customers are assumed to be stupid, or at best, ill informed. As a result my defenses go up and I become a top-notch skeptic.

These guys stuck with me through it, though, and in the end a good conversation happened. Hats off to them for being persistent.

This conversation made me think a lot about what a partnership with a vendor looks like. When it comes to managed services I tend to be openly hostile. I've seen very few good experiences with MSPs. No one cares as much about your organization as you do and MSPs, in the end, are making money off your lack of investment in IT (or inability to make an investment). However, there times where its nice to have a vendor to dump some things off on. There is also a certain level of expertise and exposure a vendor has just by being in many environments.

So in the case of an organization where there are already competent IT personnel involved and technology is helping users meet or exceed corporate goals is there room for partnership with an MSP? It was interesting to think about that as the vendor I was talking with was trying to figure out what this sort of relationship would look like. I'm working on bringing nearly everything I can in-house and strategies to cut down the "IT stuff" (defined as tech busywork like password resets, account unlocks, stability-related outages, etc). That doesn't leave much room for the traditional MSP sweet spots of helpdesk and network administration.

So now I have some things to think about. I'd never considered how a vendor fits into my IT strategies. I've never found a vendor that had a broad enough expertise for me to "partner" with. That sounds like a blog post for another day.