It seems more than ever we are all being asked to do more with less. Maybe we are squeezing as much as we can out of our computing resources through virtualization. Or perhaps we are building efficiencies into the processes of our people so we can accomplish more with the same amount of time and resources. The bottom line? We aren’t getting any more time in the day. So, the question becomes how do we look for those gaps and gain in efficiencies? 

Let’s discuss one potential way to do that through focusing on solutions and working with a software solutions partner.

It is nearly universal that most organizations will leverage solutions and services partners in some capacity. So, how do we ensure that we are leveraging the right resources, at the right time, for the right investment – when we don’t have time or resources to waste?

Why Consider Asking for Help?

I’ve worked with many organizations over the years and have gained perspective on the continuum of reasons and consideration for when an organization might want to go outside of its four walls to ask for help. The reasons and decision points can be simple or very complex in how they are made as, ultimately, every organization is very different.

One of the most important considerations to reach out for help is for validation. You’ve done your research, but have all of the angles been considered? That’s where a solutions provider comes in. Many of them are more than willing to assist you in some capacity at no cost to demonstrate their expertise and establish their value.

Take advantage of that. You have more than likely invested in various software programs or suites. In some cases, you may not even be fully aware of the built-in functionality or capabilities they can provide.

In addition, there are likely areas of overlap. You may be unnecessarily paying for multiple solutions simply because of not knowing you owned it as part of your software agreements. This is one of the biggest areas for inefficiencies. It’s also one of the biggest ways to save money with the lowest amount of effort.

A solutions provider is able to understand your investments, business goals, comfort in management and administration of various technologies and vendors. They can help guide you to the right solutions to maximize your investments and save you time and money in the long run.

Keep in mind, I don’t want this to sound too easy. Identifying the efficiencies can be the simple part. The hard part is determining a strategy and timeline for implementation that aligns to the needs of the business, the overall budget and lowest impact to end-user productivity.

What Are the Main Benefits?

As you consider working with an outside organization for help with your technology solutions and your investments in software, there can be many other benefits to keep in mind:

Peace of Mind: Consulting organizations and service providers are experts in what they do. They do what they do over and over and have found all of the gaps, bugs and errors in the process. That means you are not starting from scratch and reinventing the wheel.

The easiest example of this is considering an Active Directory or Microsoft Exchange migration. Our organization, for example, has delivery engineers that focus solely on those technologies and have done so for years. They have migrated thousands of users from multiple platforms in multiple locations to their final destination. I have no doubt that your organization has expertise as well, but how many times have they done a project like that?

Get it Right the First Time: When considering a services provider, consider their ability to accelerate your projects and help ensure success the first time. That is extremely critical, because if they can’t do that foundational element, then there was no reason to get help in the first place. Beyond that, be sure to consider their ability to provide knowledge transfer to your teams. You should be able to learn from their expertise to increase your team’s overall knowledge of the solutions.

Training for your Team: Leverage the service provider’s experience to train your team and accelerate their knowledge. Hands-on learning has been proven over and over as one of the most valuable types of training.

Help with Planning: In additional to the core expertise around technologies, vendors and solution domains that you can leverage, you might also consider leveraging them to assist with the planning phases first. This allows you to get a full understanding of timeline, cost and resource constraints before getting too far along with a particular solutions provider to prove out their ability and trust to continue. The other main benefit with this approach is in determining your team’s involvement in future phases. The idea is to look for ways to lower the overall cost for future implementation phases.

Watch Out for the “Gotcha’s”

Of course with any big decision, there can be many gotcha’s to look out for:

Less Expensive Isn’t Always Best: There are many reasons why one solutions provider is more or less expensive than another. The reasons can range from its size to where it is located. I would generally recommend focusing on the solutions and value first – and not the price – as the major decision factor. If this doesn’t work, take the approach you would when getting work done on your house. Get a bid from multiple sources, then get rid of the outliers on price.

Check the Fine Print : One of the main reasons why one solution provider might be cheaper than another is in the fine print. This really comes down to “scope.” Project scope can be a hard thing to determine, especially when reading multiple contracts, but look for the big items. How many phases are included? Have they included planning and design phases in the contract? Is there documentation that will be provided? Will they be decommissioning any hardware as part of the contract? Is it a pilot phase only or a full deployment? What are the knowledge transfer, training or support that is included? All of these items can cause relatively large swings in price. The better you determine what your needs are, the more precise the estimates will be. Always check the fine print.

Look for Expertise First: When considering who to work with, finding someone local to your organization, someone that knows your business and understands your community, is always important. However, isn’t knowledge of the solution with the right level of experience even more critical? Be careful about making emotional decisions and focus on the goals. Always look for the expertise you need – first.

Leverage Technology and the Power of the Cloud: One of the ways to ensure you have the right expertise is by leveraging the power of the cloud and extending the reach of how you work. More and more projects are being done remotely for our customers. This allows us to get the right resources tied to the right projects much more quickly than ever before. I have to imagine most other service providers are doing the same thing. Consider leveraging the power of the “cloud” and extend your reach.

Final Thoughts

Let’s face it, doing more with less is today’s mantra. How do we maximize our investments and deliver value to our organizations quickly? How do we ensure we are partnering with the right organizations that align to these same goals and help us perform at the top of our game?

Work with a solutions provider that understands the challenges you are up against and has taken the time to understand your unique needs. Look for a partner that focuses on your solutions to build trust with you. They should be able to provide strong communication built on a proven solutions methodology. They should be working to fully understand your goals, and the investments you have made to maximize the value and remove redundancy. And they should be able to quickly pivot with you as your needs change.

Move beyond the cost and into a valuable relationship built on trust. Move into a relationship built on solutions.

Check out our collection of case studies to see how CDW has helped other companies increase ROI and, of course, do more with less.