While every small business understands they must keep up with information technology to stay competitive in the digital age, how best to do that can be more elusive. While project management best practices are the foundation of technology implementation success, few small businesses have the in-house IT and project leadership expertise. In fact, only 58 percent of organizations fully understand the value of project management according to the latest Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Survey.
Your small business is focused on business relevance and return on investment (ROI) of information technology projects. While you may be considering outside expert IT project support, it’s all about understanding what to look for in a partner. Here are six qualities to look for in a project leadership partner as you begin your journey.
1. A Focus on ROI
One of the most important qualities to look for in a project leadership partnership is a focus on ROI. That translates to an ability to quickly assess the current state of your business technology and how you use it. This approach enables your partner to determine what technology upgrades, management, or monitoring would bring the biggest operational and bottom-line return.
2. Strong Technology Provider Relationships
While some manufacturers like Microsoft are very important across nearly all small businesses, the right partner takes a generally agnostic view of technology manufacturers. They are then in the best position to review, vet, and choose the best solutions to solve real-world business problems in a cost-effective way.
The right partner will also develop strong technology provider relationships across all product and system categories geared to the needs of businesses like yours. They base this on deep experience across countless successful projects and business needs.
3. Experience, Certifications, and On-going Training
It’s a given that any partner you consider would have deep experience in common systems and technology. But they should also be highly experienced with the latest technologies and have the certifications to back it up.
They show this by bringing a mix of IT specialists and generalists that are cross trained in different systems, platforms, hardware and software. You want to make sure your partner brings the business-critical competencies based on your IT infrastructure today and what you will need tomorrow.
4. Strong IT Strategy Approach
Regardless of the size of your business, every system and piece of hardware and software must be the most efficient that it can be. It must also fit into a holistic technology approach focused on business outcomes and processes. The right partner can make these assessments because they are driven by a focus on IT strategy development. This ensures they will integrate any new technologies at the right time and in the right way to fulfill the present and future needs of the business.
5. Data Security Expertise
Every small business must have strong data security in the age of growing breaches and cyber threats. This need encompasses every technology you use and every part of your business. The right partner should make security a part of every decision they make in conjunction with your business.
They show this by bringing data security expertise and the ability to craft a security plan to fit your needs and your budget. The right approach should encompass everything from regulatory compliance, and hosted backup to patch management, hardware/software life cycle and emerging best practices for cloud and network security.
6. Change Management Expertise
Any IT implementation or project will mean changes to how people, processes, and technology interact to fulfill business needs. The right project leadership partner understands how to avoid change management challenges. This ultimately comes down to knowing how to work with leadership and the workforce across departments and disciplines. The result is an ability to ensure a smooth transition to new and potentially different processes or technologies.
To accomplish this, they will provide training and education. They also understand that your workforce is the best source for knowing the most about what needs to be done and the source of process pain points. The right partner will start each project by getting input from the staff to make them part of the process of change and get their buy-in. This will help to shape everything from technology maintenance and upgrades to new implementations today and tomorrow.
This is only the beginning of what the ideal project leadership partner brings to the table for your small business. The goal is to start with these six qualities as the foundation of what to look for in terms of project leadership services. They will naturally lead you to other important qualities in a partner that best positions every project for success as the business grows and changes.