As businesses begin to resume normal operations after a couple years of disruption, two main issues remain: enabling staff for hybrid work environments and gaining visibility over (and justification for) everything in their budget. A barrage of questions ensue — How is productivity? Are customers still happy? How is staff adjusting? Where exactly is our IT budget going? The answer to all of these questions has become evident —the need for greater transparency.
For business executives who oversee IT budgets, these questions sound all too familiar, as, for years, they’ve tolerated complexity and ambiguity when dealing with internal or outsourced IT. Typically, IT providers have hidden costs, as they charge for unnecessary services and bundle their pricing into a single monthly and contracted amount, leaving executives in the dark as to what they’re paying for exactly.
These same executives struggle to understand how many licenses they have and what is included or excluded in the service contract. Questions on preventive maintenance, monitoring, etc., are probably answered vaguely by the IT vendor. And the concern that really keeps them up at night– How can they hold the IT provider or team accountable when they don’t know the specifics of the IT contract and spending?
As all spending is more closely scrutinized in this new normal, the onus is on the IT vendors to offer clarity and transparency in their services and prices.
As executives work to get their heads around IT spending and where potential savings might be found, one line item has grown during the pandemic. Enabling a remote workforce has increased IT spending for many organizations, but also continues to be a source of anxiety and frustration for many leaders.
Observing who is in the office early each day, who could use a little help and who took at 2-hour lunch was once obvious with a quick stroll down the halls, but now requires digital tracking and reporting. Most business executives will readily admit that a remote workforce primarily worries them because of their exact nature— remote, and therefore less easy to monitor and assist.
The saving grace for them in this foreign landscape is the adoption of more cloud services. Yet many find their IT providers reluctant to recommend them, as they replace services offered by their IT provider, are easily scalable, and charged by the user (harder to hide expenses).
From a productivity perspective the services often include greater visibility and transparency into their usage. This visibility helps to provide a direct line of sight between IT costs and productivity. From a management perspective a move to the cloud allows for more flexibility in budgeting and scaling to align with the goals of the business over time.
For example, at the onset of this pandemic, many customers panic-bought Zoom subscriptions to ensure all conversations and meetings continued smoothly. However, since the dust (and panic) has settled, they’ve quickly transitioned to Microsoft Teams, after realizing they were already paying for a similar service as part of Microsoft 365. The ease of use of these cloud services enabled businesses to turn on a service and then turn it off in just a matter of months without purchasing any additional hardware or signing long term commitments.
In addition, companies gain better visibility into which internal workflows need help and what tools are most effective. Not only can productivity be better monitored, but bottlenecks will also be revealed. Remote work productivity and justification of IT spending no longer becomes a guessing game when companies can point directly to these analytics to back up their claims.
Gaining transparency into usage and costs finally empowers executives to answers the question — Can I hold my IT provider and/or team accountable? Yes! because I now understand what tools my employees are using and how their productivity and success are directly tied to our IT costs.
The impact of the pandemic has been mixed for many businesses. However, surviving and thriving in the years ahead is dependent on gaining transparency. Transparency not only into spending, but also into a workforce’s activity and overall productivity. As the rest of this year unfolds any efforts made toward gaining greater transparency will be time well spent.