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December 18, 2013

Guest Blog: Are you growing your business on trust?

Building a good IT service provider business isn't easy, according to Autotask's Mark Banfield.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Building a solid, agile, and respected IT Service Provider business is anything but easy.

To accomplish great things, a productive team with diverse skill sets and personalities must learn to collaborate, communicate, and complement each other – all of which depends on trust. Will staff deliver on commitments without needing micro-management? Do client deadlines drive personal accountability or last-minute panic? Can you trust individuals to implement tasks with their best efforts, or are they doing just enough to get by? By the same token, is each customer contact enhancing trust – or undermining it?

Once lost, trust is difficult to re-establish: the last thing a senior manager wants to learn is that an account relationship is in jeopardy because promises turned out to be hollow. Even worse, a competitor might steal a customer that feels betrayed.

For all its importance, trust is a slippery notion, and the larger a business grows with concurrent project obligations, the more difficult it is to monitor and verify. The hands-on approach that might work with a small startup team gradually becomes inadequate, even risky, as business commitments accumulate. The temptation is to make ‘no-news-is-good-news’ assumptions about trust levels, and to substitute guesswork for analysis.

Which of these assumptions might you be making?

– All billable hours have been captured
– Key performance metrics are being met
– The team is neither over- or under-servicing clients
– Customers trust what the company tells them
– Customers are satisfied and loyal
– The right people are working on the right tasks

Rather than gut feeling, you need evidence and insight into what’s happening within your business. You need objective data, not subjective opinion. As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets managed.

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Think about the numerous workflow events that happen every day in your growing business. If you capture and track them in a consistent way, they’re the raw material for all kinds of oversight and analysis, not to mention their use as input to other internal-process systems such as invoicing and human resources. Most important, workflow monitoring fortifies the trustworthy reputation that your business has worked so hard to establish and sustain.


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