Transparency is an increasingly critical quality in today’s market, and for good reason. To make the best decisions for your clients and your business, it’s important to be able to see the whole picture, both internally with your employees and externally with your customers. However, one oft-overlooked area of transparency is within the IT industry.
What you need to know is this: Any managed service provider (MSP) you partner with should have a clear policy and practice of transparency in their culture, processes, approaches, and tools.
Why does it matter? Unfortunately, we often see clients who have had their data and information held captive by other MSPs and used as leverage. Further, as more of our personal and professional lives migrate online, transparency is top of mind among consumers. In the EU, for example, the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was one of the most important changes in data privacy. In it, transparency is positioned as an obligation to keep people informed on what personal data is being collected and why.
Transparency can also help you boost your business. Perhaps you’ve heard of the concept of “radical transparency” in business, government, and technology. It’s the belief that organizations should be honest, open, and straightforward in all that they do. Case in point, the social media company Buffer made a decision to publicly share its employees’ salaries. The result of this radical transparency was a dramatic increase in trust between team members. It also boosted the company’s recruitment. After the salaries were published, Buffer has a 230 percent increase in job applications the following month!
Transparency is indeed key. And you should expect it of every partner or provider you work with, just as your customers expect it of you. In this post, we look at a few reasons why transparency should be the starting point for your relationship with your managed service provider.
What is transparency?
Let’s start with a basic question: What is transparency?
Transparency is all about openness and accountability, in all aspects of your business. This may be about sharing sales or performance information online or about clearly posting your prices in up-to-date materials. Or this could be about keeping physical office doors open to encourage dialogue. Ask yourself, what does transparency look like to me, to my employees, and to my customers? Savvy consumers will also pick up transparency (or lack thereof) via your website, social media, and reviews or testimonials from clients.
Transparency applies to both your internal and external relationships. This includes how you communicate internally with your staff as well as how you communicate with your existing and potential customers. Many experts on transparency suggest that transparency starts from within – among your own organization and employees. Does your team feel informed, valued, and that they can raise concerns about their work?
No matter what industry you’re in, transparency requires that key stakeholders at your business be open, forthcoming, and clear about key points of information. Don’t forget: This includes the vendors and providers that you hire to help you run, grow, and protect your business, such as your managed service provider.
Why is transparency important?
A Forbes article puts it well: “In addition to attracting new customers, transparency allows you to better serve your current ones, ensuring they stick with you.” On top of this, while more and more of our lives move online, we hear frequent reports of damaging cyberattacks that compromise personal and business data. Transparency encourages trust, peace of mind, accountability, and is critical to data security. In short, transparency for your business has never been so important as it is right now. Here’s just a few more reasons why transparency is so important.
Transparency is important to your customers, which means transparency should be important to your business. Your customers trust your business to keep their personal information safe; in turn, you need to trust that your MSP does the same for you and your data.
This starts with a solid understanding of your MSP’s processes, approaches, and tools. When exploring MSP providers, plan to ask a few basic questions around the topic of transparency. If the vendor can’t answer these questions, or if you’re not satisfied with their response, search for alternative provider!
What is your company’s philosophy on transparency?
What sort of written policies do you have to support transparency?
How exactly do you ensure transparency for your clients? Do you have any examples or testimonials?
What tools or platforms do you use that improve transparency?
How do I get in touch with you outside of business hours?
How does your team share internal information and knowledge? Is this information shared with your clients?
Would your staff describe the company they work for as striving to be transparent?
Remember, the key to trusting your MSP revolves around how it manages your business data and technology infrastructure. When you trust your MSP, your client can trust you. Now that’s a virtuous cycle to aim for!
Another outcome of transparency is that you can better delegate accountability and responsibility. For example, when it comes to working with an MSP, if you have a clear understanding into exactly how your provider is managing your data and systems, you will have a better understanding of your role versus the MSP’s role. A good provider will clearly define and delineate these roles before entering into an agreement with you.
In the event of a cyberattack against your business and your information, clearly understanding these roles – and knowing how to quickly reach the experts – could reduce the damages of an attack, saving your company time, money, and reputation.
Another benefit of transparency that we’re seeing among our clients is an improved ability to solve problems. It will be easier for you, your team and your MSP to tackle core challenges and solve problems since all of the elements that could contribute to the cause of the problem will be visible and accessible. In general, transparency also fosters collaboration and communication to encourage new ideas for effective problem solving.
For example, let’s say that your business struggles a bit with good passwords – not only selecting strong passwords but also in how your employees store and share them. (Don’t worry, you’re not alone!) One solution might be a password manager, to help you practice airtight security. The right MSP will not only help you select the ideal password manager, but also provide you with full access, so you can manage, track, and thwart potentially dangerous activity.
Last but not least, transparency can enhance your security and ensure continuous operations at your firm.
Picture this: You didn’t have time to fully vet the various MSPs in your area and hastily select one that offers competitive prices. You’ve granted this company rare and deep access to your information and data. The provider migrated this data from a legacy on-premise hosting environment to a cloud-based solution. The MSP has the login credentials and password. You do not. Do you feel comfortable about this scenario? Could the provider leverage your data and information to sell you more services? In an emergency, could you access the information you need?
We don’t ever want you to be in that kind of bind. When you partner with a transparent provider like N8 Solutions, you won’t risk having your data and information held as leverage. You will have clear and round-the-clock access to your data and information, as well as our processes; this gives you freedom, control, and protection over your own assets.
Why aren’t all MSPs more transparent?
Given the myriad benefits of transparency, then, why aren’t all MSPs simply more transparent? One resource suggests that competitive instincts may be a reason. MSP providers in particular may be accustomed to performing work in silos, with “one platform for their analysts, one platform for ticketing and management, one platform for communicating with the customer.” However, this approach makes it difficult for the customer (you!) to see and understand the big picture. Radical transparency is a shift to break down the silos keeping you and your MSP separated.
We think that our business is different – we focus on the people using technology, rather than just the technology itself. We won’t baffle you with jargon or keep you in the dark about your technology service. Instead, we bake transparency into everything we do and we’re here to help you foster more openness and protection into how you do business, too.
In closing, transparency matters to your business and your customers. You should expect the same level of openness with your managed services provider. The result is happier, well-informed employees and customers and a more secure technology infrastructure.
Please reach out today for a free consultation on how you can trust us to help you build trust with others!