This is the last in a series of three articles sponsored by Ricoh looking at how different companies facing transformation evaluate their MSP options. The variety of services MSPs provide can range from the monitoring IT networks to being responsible for all repairs, updates and patches, as well as providing new software, hardware, infrastructure, cloud services, and staff resources.
Cymax Group is a Burnaby, British Columbia-based organization that has grown from a small online furniture store in 2004 to a fully managed digital supply chain platform. Its brands include Cymax Business, Freight Club, HomeSquare, Muzeboard, and Channel Gate.
Cymax Group needed to migrate from a furniture e-retailer to being a fully-managed digital supply chain platform, and that required both technical and organizational changes. Its siloed teams and ad hoc requests meant there was no sense of community or collaboration, and processes, if any, were inefficient. In addition, there was no single source of truth within the company – it needed to establish data-driven solutions.
Beginning in 2015, Cymax Group began its digital transformation to increase efficiencies across the organization. The transformation followed Microsoft’s four pillars: engage your customers, empower your employees, optimize your operations, and transform your product, said chief executive officer Rizwan Somji. It spanned the entire company and was as much about realigning the organization and company culture as it was about technology.
As we action transformation plans and when we leverage Microsoft’s four pillars: engage your customers, empower your employees, optimize your operations, and transform your product, we strive to match these with business outcomes, says Wade Ball, Director of IT with Ricoh. Ensure you measure success with metrics that tie into an improved customer experience, happy and productive end users, efficient and profitable operations, with products and solutions that are in demand.
In order to action a successful transformation, the strategic efforts to plan and build an IT Roadmap is critical. You must include all key stakeholders from all lines of your business. Everyone uses technology today, so all must have a seat at the table for the collaboration, planning, and sharing that needs to occur to build a holistic plan that supports the entire business. Including more key stakeholders across more areas of your business will result in a more successful transformation with an increase in participation from your teams. This IT Roadmap is not a static document, it must be reviewed regularly to ensure it meets your business plan and needs along the way. Your business and technology do change, more rapidly than ever before, so too must your efforts in managing and maintaining a relevant plan.
Many organizations today include their customers in the planning and transformation efforts, says Ball. Feedback from customers is critical and there are lots of ways to measure their satisfaction. “Customer input into your transformation journey will not only give you unexpected insights but it improves your retention level as they will feel valued.”
At Cymax Group cross-functional teams were established to ensure issues were fully addressed, and IT was involved in day-to-day business to keep it abreast of needs. Developers were introduced to Agile Scrum methodologies and were given standardized project management processes and tools such as JIRA and Confluence.
A data warehouse created the needed single source of truth, and upgrades to infrastructure such as email and Microsoft Azure hosting provided a stable foundation. Internal office systems had already made the migration before the COVID-19 lockdowns; Cymax was able to move to work from home with no interruption.
“You need to rely on your MSP to be your partner in almost all aspects of the journey, from the strategic planning to the design and implementation of solutions to the ongoing management and support of technology systems for a quality end user and customer experience,” says Ball.
A quality MSP will help you factor in any and all regulations and governance into your plan, allowing the business to make the best choices to manage compliance and risk.
Thoughts from Cymax Group
“For me, having a good MSP is critical,” Somji noted. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a big or small organization, digital or not, it is really an extension to our team. It provides access to skills that I wouldn’t necessarily have access to.”
Cymax Group and its long-time MSP have had their ups and downs, but he said that they were always able to sit down and reset. He appreciated their supportiveness during difficult times and acknowledged that the MSP had a big role in defining the new processes and is still involved in creating Cymax Group’s roadmap.
“They’ve invested in our success,” he said, adding that the policy management and governance and security management have to move to the next level if the company decides to go public, and he is relying on the MSP’s expertise to help build out infrastructure, policies, and the team to accomplish this.
Your MSP partner MUST be invested in your company’s success, agrees Ball. A trusted and working partnership will allow for healthy collaboration and discussions that will hold each party accountable for their efforts to transform the organization. “Challenge your teams to review in some form of cadence your strategic IT Roadmap and how it empowers your business plan and needs,” says Ball. “Encourage the inclusion of your customers to provide another thoughtful approach to drive an increase in success.”
Somji insists the Cymax transformation is nowhere near over.
“I think we’re just at the beginning of the journey,” he said. “We started by upgrading our email infrastructure, upgrading our Azure hosting infrastructure, upgrading our file systems, and making sure we’ve got a business continuity plan and disaster recovery in place. These are all kind of table stakes thing for us now.”
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