Sometimes it seems like your IT Director is from Mars and you’re from Venus. After months of trying to find the software to align your sales and marketing teams you’ve finally discovered the best sales enablement platform. It meets all the criteria you’ve been looking for and you’re excited to purchase it, only for your progress to come to a screeching halt because of the IT Director’s list of questions.
I sat down with Bill McCharen, the CEO of Austin based IT services company, MyITpros, to find out what sales and marketing leaders should know before they begin a software hunt.
The Shift In Power
The last few years for IT Directors have been a dramatic shift. Not so long ago all software purchasing was the IT department’s role. Today, it’s so easy for any team lead to do research on their own and get demo. The team lead has access and starts using the software before the IT department even gets a chance to look at it. And that’s a big problem for a number of reasons.
Your sales teams use Salesforce, your marketing teams use Hubspot, your Sales and Marketing Opps use Trello for project management. Each department also has their own laundry list of apps (accounting uses Quickbooks) and the whole of the company may have both Microsoft Office and Google Docs. The biggest challenge with all these SaaS apps is integration.
“One of the problems with proliferation with cloud application is you have all these apps that don’t talk to each other,” McCharen said.
If your teams have ever experienced a mediocre integration, take that pain and multiply it by ten to understand the headache your IT department is probably already dealing with. It is a little more helpful to find a sales enablement solution with a robust API, but an API isn’t a get out of jail card. An API basically puts a majority of the burden onto the customer and most noteable the IT Director who needs to figure it out on top of managing 500 users. Try and find sales enablement software that plays well with others.
2. User Management Multiplies
I would have thought that cloud-based software would be like winning the lottery for IT departments. Think about it. No hardware updates, OS updates, fewer backup issues. That leaves plenty of time to focus on users more, right? Wrong.
“Cloud-based software removes some tasks but it makes user management much more complicated,” McCharen said.
I’ll try and not go too techy here but basically, a traditional network was typically a Windows server environment. That meant the IT department gave users one place to access all their apps and they could access it through one log in. Now each time a new employee comes on board the IT support technician has to create accounts for say 10 applications. The technician also has to manage those SaaS platforms when the user submits a ticket and they have to change those passwords when the employee leaves the company. Suddenly managing one password for each employee at a 500 person company turned into managing 5000 passwords. I’m sure you were just waiting for me to bring up security but managing 5000 passwords and constantly onboarding and offboarding new employees is more like being buried by student loans than winning the lottery.
Picking a sales enablement solution with SSO (single sign-on) capabilities can help your IT Director with user management and improve security.
3. Control Limitations
Another big challenge with hosted software is there are many limitations in terms of control. For example IT departments don’t have as much control when it comes to where hosted applications are stored. Though it is less common, some apps are required to be stored on site or within the companies hosted server. That’s pretty hard to achieve when the sales and marketing team leads select and purchase a hosted app without discussing it with IT.
Furthermore, the IT team is at the mercy of the hosted solutions’ backup methods. When looking into new software you may want to ask your IT Director what he/she looks for in standard data backup, also referred to as retention control. To illustrate, Office 360’s standard retention is 30 days, which may be fine for some companies and not enough time for others.
“Your IT department’s job is to make sure data is protected,” McCharen said. “That’s very difficult to do when it’s controlled by someone else.”
Limited control on location of the data and how often it can be backed up is a huge concern. Enterprise versions of the software you are evaluating may give you’re IT the control they need.
There are a few non-technical considerations IT Directors are also pondering.
Project management – Who owns this project? The IT team will want to know this as soon as possible because they will be working with that person and the software company to get things moving.
Budget – Does this software come out of the Marketing budget or the IT budget? Software licensing can be incredibly expensive. You should know who owns this line item.
Job Security – It is true there are some IT professionals who are threatened by hosted applications and now you probably can understand why. Managing them is very different than traditional methods. And as you saw it’s their neck on the line if something happens.
As a fellow marketer, I know we get excited about what our gadgets and gizmos can offer us. But going forward we can be a little more thoughtful about how we approach our software hunt. The best technique is to include the IT department in your search as early as possible. And find out what they need so they can support your team most efficiently.
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