Technical expertise — and strong
communication skills. Of course, an IT partner should be well-versed in
the ins and outs of technology. But that sort of knowledge can be of
little more than academic value if your partner doesn't have first-hand
knowledge of how it applies to your business. "He should be first and
foremost a businessperson who utilizes technology in a cost-effective
manner to solve business problems," says Michael Crowe, director of the
technology consulting and solutions group at Chicago-based Plante &
Moran. "He can bridge the technology and communications gap that often
exists between IT and a CEO's office."
awareness of your budget — and resources.
IT partners are proving increasingly essential to a
broad range of small to medium-sized businesses. But that
sort of critical function shouldn't necessarily come at a
crippling expense. When looking for an IT partner, ask how
fees are structured. A responsive IT partner certainly won't
be free, but should be sympathetic to those sorts of
services that can bleed business coffers dry. "For instance,
they can provide access to high-level skills when needed,
while paying a reduced rate for services such as a help-desk
and repair services," says Dan Blumenthal, executive vice
president of Miller Systems, a Boston-based technology
concern. "Those are the costs that can consume the majority
of an IT budget outside of project work."