When organizations look for managed services providers, they typically consider the skills and technologies in a managed services provider’s arsenal, along with experience and customer references. Often, they look for a work culture and attitudes that are similar to their own. All of that is helpful. But operational maturity is at least as important when you’re looking to achieve a productive engagement with an IT managed services provider. Assessing and increasing IT operational maturity is also essential in achieving your organization’s strategic goals.
Maturity Matches Between Clients and Consulting Organizations
At Sikich, we regularly determine the maturity of our IT processes and systems, using standard industry assessment tools. On a scale of 1 to 5, we consider, group, and grade our operations into three main areas: operational scalability, governance and controls, and strategic alignment and business value. The questionnaires and assessment checklists we use for clients are similar to what we apply to ourselves, and the resulting gradations correspond.
IT operational maturity assessments help us understand where our business is today, and what actionable improvement opportunities exist. They also play an important role when we decide whether we can really help a potential client. For a consulting engagement to be successful, the client and the consulting business should be somewhat evenly matched when it comes to their level of IT maturity.
If your consulting company’s IT maturity rating is above that of your client, you might frustrate the client. The company might not need the sophisticated resources and approaches you suggest, but could well benefit from a different kind of guidance. On the other hand, when a client’s IT maturity level surpasses that of the consulting organization or managed services provider, that client might be underserved by your services. You’re not operating at the level where the client is expecting to consume IT services, and likely will not be effective for them.
Accelerating IT Maturity in the Cloud
Most successful businesses evolve along the continuum of IT operational maturity as they deploy complex applications; add users, locations and teams; IT becomes more strategic; and security and infrastructure support requirements turn more challenging. At some point, leaders may need to decide whether it’s still in the company’s best interest to grow and manage IT internally or explore outsourcing the delivery of IT services. In fact, tasking the company’s own IT department with ensuring the integrity of data and applications and facilitating productive processes may be more expensive and risky than outsourcing IT support and management. We often help clients navigate this juncture.
For many organizations, adopting a cloud-based ERP or other application is a way of forcing the acceleration toward greater IT operational maturity. Leading cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure make it easy for organizations to benefit from such advanced technologies as the enterprise-level security and data analytics available in the cloud today. They can also benefit from the cloud’s scalability, resilience, economy, and efficiency.
Standardization on the Path to IT Evolution
IT runs better, and can more effectively support your goals, when standardization exists within the IT organization. As your IT operational maturity grows with the business, the standardization of your IT governance, security, controls, infrastructure, and applications along best practices and optimal strategic alignment becomes critical.
Without standardization, any IT-related decision, policy, acquisition, or deployment will be based on a new, individual use case. That gets very costly and complex. For many of our clients, we conduct quarterly business reviews to ensure the strategic alignment of their technologies, and identify opportunities to reduce complexities and costs by standardizing additional practices and technologies in their IT organization.
Much of the work Sikich teams do in helping clients boost their IT maturity involves compliance with regulatory and quality measures. Often, our clients’ clients push them to elevate their standards and their IT operational maturity. That is often the case when they do business with governmental entities, utilities, or defense contractors, where multiple sets of compliance standards can apply. Without standardization, compliance can be fraught with risk in addition to administrative complexities and costs.
At the Top Rank of IT Operational Maturity, Growth Continues
Our clients’ lives, and our consulting assignments, become easier when standardization on the way to more advanced IT operational maturity can happen in the cloud. Leading cloud providers generally already follow best industry standards for network configurations, security, user support, containerization, and service delivery.
Thus, a formerly highly challenging undertaking like meeting ISO certification requirements, which used to prompt companies to perform their own upgrades and standardizations, is a comparatively minor effort in the cloud. That is, it’s minor as long as you can collaborate with the service provider to meet your specific requirements.
As we help clients travel along their path to IT operational maturity and take advantage of the – most often, private – cloud in achieving best-practice standards, our own understanding and approach to service delivery also evolve. As you’ll likely find, at the top of the IT maturity scale your horizon broadens and there’s yet more to learn. Growth never comes to an end and every client engagement is different, even if we rely on standards and best practices.
If you want to explore how Sikich can help you benefit from advancing your company’s IT operational maturity or have other questions, please contact us.