MSPs work with companies in a variety of circumstances, and in some cases you might find yourself helping internal IT departments by working on a larger project or by augmenting their efforts with services like remote monitoring, backup, and more. While in some cases IT managers will be excited to have your help, some employees might be hesitant to let an outside firm come in and make changes to the systems they work hard to maintain. Some may worry an outside IT firm’s presence might mean they’re being replaced. Whatever the case, you can promote positive collaboration and communication between your firm and a client’s internal IT team by taking a few simple steps.
Be Up-Front About Why You’re There
Telling IT teams you’re there to help can ease some of the anxiety they might feel. Your goal is to help IT teams meet their company goals; so, in a lot of ways, you’re working for the IT team as much as you are for the company itself. Make it clear that you’re a partner there to help them do their jobs better and that you’re there to listen, collaborate, and achieve goals alongside them.
Open Communication Lines Early
Open communication is your biggest ally when it comes to helping internal IT teams. Making sure friendly, productive communication starts early is the best way to promote collaboration. Ask internal IT teams lots of questions about their networks and systems, and work to understand their decisions, processes, and philosophies. There are hundreds of ways to get something done in the IT world, but what decisions brought the network to its current state? The more you understand about a network and the people managing it, the better position you’re in to offer thoughts and suggestions.
Set Egos Aside and Learn from Each Other
Everybody views IT through a different lens. You can accomplish any given task in a variety of ways, and it’s easy to think that your way is the best. In many cases it might be, but you’ll likely discover plenty of situations in which another person’s outlook might lead to a way of solving a problem that you may not have considered. Setting ego aside is important because it keeps you open to various perspectives that might drive better solutions and help you and the entire time get better results.
Discuss Team Goals
Goals keep everyone on the same page. First, discuss goals of the company broadly. Maybe they’re speeding up their network overall, working on a large hardware refresh, or beefing up security. From there, collaborate with the internal IT team on how best to achieve those goals. Internal teams will have their ideas, and you’ll have yours as well. Be sure to listen to their thoughts and work closely to develop a plan that will best achieve the goals, using the best of your collective opinions and ideas.
Develop Solid Processes
Projects tend to fall apart when good processes aren’t driving them. This can be exacerbated when an outside firm comes in to help. You might have processes you like, but so might the IT managers you’re working with, and that can make coordination tough. Communication is the important piece, but learning to work together also involves making sure everyone understands their roles in a project and knows what’s expected of them. At the onset, work with internal teams to answer questions like:
- What will the workflow look like?
- What’s the schedule like?
- Who is the primary project manager?
- Is there project management software managing tasks?
- Are there other tools to be aware of?
- Who’s accountable for what?
Once these questions are answered, the project will go much more smoothly for you and the team you’re working with. As you begin working together, you’ll learn how to collaborate, even if their approach to projects initially differs from yours.
You’ll earn the respect (and even admiration) of internal IT teams if you check egos at the door, communicate freely and often, and never lose sight of your goal to help them. You all have a passion for IT and are working to meet the same goals, so there’s no reason why working with a client’s internal team can’t be a great experience for both parties. Working together with new people presents a great opportunity to learn, grow, and develop as a person and an IT provider.
Was there a time you and an internal IT team knocked it out of the park together? Share it with us!