The secret sauce to a great relationship between clients and their technology expense management (TEM) provider is a blending of information, business insight, and interpersonal communication. When these three elements are combined properly, with healthy measures of trust and confidence stirred in, the results are a successful business relationship beneficial to everyone. This is the foundation of promoting a positive, proactive, productive partnership.
Clients who approach the relationship by treating their TEM provider as a true partner, the TEM provider does a better job and can feel free to treat the client in the same way.
Roles and Responsibilities
TEM providers help keep the client’s technology running while also protecting the bottom line by assuring accuracy of billing for related services. That’s a key and critical role in any organization.
Enabling the TEM provider begins with commitment to communicating critical information by consistently attending weekly review meetings and constantly providing changes in inventory through moves, adds, changes and deletions (MACD) processes, along with any changes in business requirements, goals and strategic objectives.
It’s vital that the TEM provider remain fully informed on the client company’s goals and how they cascade through the various departments, business units, and other organizations within it. They need to understand what the key performance indicators (KPI) are that the client uses to evaluate how well the TEM provider is doing so they can make every effort to contribute to those. Effective TEM providers immediately get beyond the functional and procedural steps required to pragmatically perform their tasks and focus instead on how to promote and grow the business.
The tactical action plan should align with a fully documented overall strategic program featuring identifiable milestones which, in turn, align closely with the client’s communicated goals and objectives. Constantly updating the strategic account plan not only provides consistency of understanding goals, it also promotes vigilance for making sure the team stays in lock step with the client’s business initiatives and forecasted outcomes.
Promoting a positive, proactive, productive partnership is an ancient axiom among customer service professionals that advises us to “fix the customer first.” This means providing an ongoing stream of useful, valuable reports on TEM performance that are actionable and meaningful to the client. Without these reports, the metrics are useless. Clients want not only savings and optimization of utilization, but also visibility of and control over their technology environments. Tailored reports should be provided for every appropriate hierarchical level in the client company to provide the basis of analysis, business and executive review of what the TEM partner has accomplished. Good TEM reporting should allow a client to make educated changes in their technology environment and help drive business results.
A “Whole Team” Strategy
As a management service the job of the TEM provider is not to independently determine what needs to be done. Their job is to make sure it gets done well. This requires constant interaction, careful proactive listening on the part of the TEM to their client’s point-of-view to help them determine what they want to accomplish next. When this kind of exchange of ideas occurs at every level of the client’s organization, the TEM provider is far better prepared to deliver outstanding results.
It’s also always valuable to regularly return to the original goals of the TEM engagement. What were the initial priorities? Visibility and control? Savings? Optimization? More automation? The entire relationship is predicated upon these initial objectives. They were part of the reason the TEM provider was selected. Always keep the target in sight and know when the target moves!
True TEM success also requires buy-in from the top executives in the client’s organization. It’s a worthwhile investment of time to periodically assure that this is still powerfully in place.
There are several challenges presented by a whole-team strategy that must also be managed:
Level-Jumping – Since the TEM provider interacts with people at every level within the organization, its important to always consciously assess which level to communicate what to. Communicating an issue to a higher-level officer when it primarily concerned a lower-level manager could easily have the impact of insulting or offending that lower-level manager. They may be critical to TEM success.
Changes and the Law of Big Numbers – The TEM provider is dealing with a significant number of different departments and an even greater number of people within those departments. It is almost inevitable that people the TEM provider has developed excellent working relationships with will leave or change roles. This requires a complete recycling of the information and buy-in process which can be very time-consuming. Change is inevitable. Plan for it by ensuring all levels of the client organization recognize the results and value your TEM program brings the client
Conflicting Messages – It is very possible that different departments will differ on requirements and/or priorities. Establishing early how to arbitrate in these situations is a valuable step for the TEM provider to go through with the client. Knowing who to turn to for decisions will keep things in motion.
Assumptions – When informing anyone in the client company regarding any given issue it is unreasonable for the TEM provider to assume that person will inform their superiors. The TEM provider must then navigate between keeping everyone informed and offending someone who may feel circumvented. When informing higher-up its always safest for the TEM provider to copy in everyone along that hierarchy path.
Remembering What We’re Dealing With
Trust and confidence are precious commodities in a business relationship, and are easily compromised or destroyed. Once lost they are infinitely harder to recover.
And while TEM, by definition, involves the management of numbers and technologies, its success is primarily rooted in the ability to manage, support, and benefit people.
When the TEM provider and the client are in constant communication the likelihood of exploiting every opportunity to identify and capture savings rises dramatically.
We hope you’ll take the time to meet Calero-MDSL. Our approach, our automation technology, and our years of experience serving all manner of clients have made us your ideal choice.