You’re Always Being Evaluated

I remember my first formal performance review.

I walked into my boss’ office with a good list of achievements for the previous twelve months, and left that self same meeting feeling both angry and dejected that my boss was so far removed from the reality of what I had accomplished. Obviously I was young, and had my own disconnects from reality as well, but since that time I’ve learned a valuable lesson. You are always being evaluated.

If the first time you tell your boss about the great things you’re doing is your performance review then you’re far too late. Every time there is a success, your boss needs to know about it. Even better if it comes from someone else – I’m not talking about being sneaky, just about doing a great job for everyone you work with. At any rate, this is meant to be an analogy so I don’t want to get too far into the weeds on this particular issue.

As a provider of IT services – be it internal or as an external service provider – you need to recognise that you are always being evaluated. When you sit down in the boardroom to be told that IT is being outsourced, or that your customer is moving to another service provider, it’s too late to start talking about your great ideas and the things that you’ve achieved or the ways in which you can reduce costs. You need to be proactive. 

This post has been percolating for a few months on the back of a number of conversations with my service provider partners who tell me that they are constantly being challenged on price. Although idealistic, I truly believe that if you are delivering (and more importantly demonstrating) value then this issue should disappear. That’s fine at an abstract level, but how do we translate that in a practical way? As a VMware employee, the service providers I work with all use our products to one extent or another. The example that I think sticks out here immediately is the idea of right sizing workloads. Service providers make money by selling virtual resources – CPU, memory, storage and network traffic. What if you were to go back to your customers and identify waste in their environment? Would you then give them back the money? Perhaps, although if you do that then you would want to get them to sign up for another three year contract at the lower rate of charge. Perhaps instead of returning that money you offer consulting services to the difference in value. This would allow you to uncover opportunities in your customers that you previously had no visibility on – a chance to generate new streams of revenue.

Imagine the conversation when a competitor comes knocking at their door next. “No, thank you. Our current provider has been more than helpful in identifying savings that can be made in our environment.”

I hear you saying “that’s all well and good, but I work in an internal IT team, so this doesn’t apply to me”. You’re right. But you’re also wrong.

One of the benefits of cloud is the ability to point towards a bill and say “look, this is what IT is costing me”. Your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to find a way to express the cost of doing IT within your organisation. Figure out a model by which you capture all of your hardware costs, software costs, service charges and operational costs. Nathan covers this really well here so I won’t go into the detail, but you need to be actively pursuing ways of showing why there is no value in placing services outside your organisation. The more strategic way to do this would actually be to identify what it costs you to run internally, figure out which services it may be better to push out and then take it to your boss.

Both of these examples result in you losing a piece of the pie, however they also end up with you retaining the majority share. Isn’t that better than losing the whole thing?