Success in the IT service industry requires two things: talent and process. Talent is the most obvious factor and so most service providers and customers focus on this. Indeed, Smart Dolphins is loaded with talent, but that is for another day.
Less obvious is the importance of process – how the collection of talent is supported and organized. You see analogous situations in the sporting realm: talent can help a team win, but you more often find a group of highly-paid superstars turn in mediocre results. IT service is no different and, because of the nature of the industry, process is the most important piece to the puzzle… in my humble opinion.
Unfortunately, the typical function of IT support is similar to that of a fire fighter: Technicians tend not to appear to be as needed until there is a fire. This dynamic naturally creates a very chaotic and reactionary approach for most in this industry. This is especially true in the competitive small business niche. For a small provider, clients’ demands can become like “IT Quicksand” and can lead to the “IT Death Spiral” – the more reactive you are the more reactive you need to be.
Smart Dolphins is different by design. We have engineered our company to avoid IT quicksand. We have invested heavily in building processes and tools that allow us to be proactive and focus more on fire prevention than fire fighting. We have the scale and business model that allows us to have dedicated, proactive talent; this allows these team members to ignore the noise of the reactive service demands. We still put out fires, but because of our structured approach we can put the majority of our resources into preventing problems.
Understand, as well, to be truly effective at building a successful, proactive IT service company, you need to dedicate the entire company to that aim. Smart Dolphins does not have clients that use us on a reactionary, “as needed” basis as we know that those clients’ problems create the IT Quicksand and degrades our ability to properly service the rest of our client base who expect us to be proactive. We also don’t distract ourselves by trying to service the whole world with extra-curricular services like web design, database development and hosting solutions. Smart Dolphins does a few things very well for local companies.
Lastly, know that at the core of a successful IT support relationship are incentives that are aligned. We construct our arrangements with our customers so that everyone wins when we apply our process and reduce the network “noise”. We charge a fixed monthly price and take responsibility for the end results of the computer network. The more we invest in preventing problems up front, the less labour cost we will have in the future. Likewise, our customers spend more productive time doing what they do best.
Smart Dolphins cares a lot about our clients. We have some really nice people on our team. We are a long standing, local, community-minded company. We have great experience and talent. There are lots of great things about Smart Dolphins. That said, I know I can say a lot of the same things about some of our competitors. What truly differentiates us from our competitors is our unique way of doing things that has been developed to combat the IT death spiral.