By Miles Jobgen, Director, Education at CompTIA
No one likes to be average, or worse, subpar. Especially when it comes to running an IT services business. Unfortunately, even those who work 20-hour days and invest their life savings can find themselves falling behind if they don’t have the right plans and systems in place. While IT professionals typically excel at making complex technologies work for their client, many admit they struggle managing their own businesses. It’s simply not a strong part of their skills sets. They have to work much harder in order to master (or at least get batter at) that part of their operations and most are willing to take those steps but may not know how to start. Many times, they just need a little help.
That’s where CompTIA comes in. Our members, subject experts and employees have been actively creating and compiling industry best practices for many years. We’ve drafted scores of training materials and educational resources to address the needs of IT providers, from fundamental ‘how-to’ guides on building a new practice to advanced financial management workshops. Thanks to the generosity and expertise of our members, this information is readily available at little-to-no cost to you and updated frequently.
Through certification, channel education and its advocacy efforts, CompTIA has supported and encouraged the growth and improvement of Solution Providers for decades. And now, at the request of our Board of Directors, thought leaders and other industry professionals, the association is taking its commitment one step further.
CompTIA Channel Standards represent the culmination of all our activities and efforts. This collection of guides, resources and business practices for IT companies is designed to improve the quality and consistency of the IT channel and its service delivery methods. CompTIA Channel Standards identify expert opinions on the fundamentals of IT operations and provide the tools required to embrace and enact those specific practices. And this will not be a “one-and-done” proposition. Our goal is to not only develop these usable resources for the IT industry, but to update them regularly to keep pace with the changing needs of providers and their clients.
Step 1: the IT Solution Provider
Channel Standards will let CompTIA take a more “open book” approach to connecting members and other providers with all that information. The format was designed to enable any and all to review and implement these peer-developed best practices into their own businesses. The end goal is to promote the behaviors tech companies can adopt to ensure greater success. They prosper, their customers receive even better solutions and support, and our industry advances. That’s a win-win-win.
How does it work? First of all, all our collective knowledge will be organized into a framework that everyone can easily follow, starting with the IT Solution Provider Channel Standards just rolled out at our CompTIA Annual Member Meeting. These are the core best practices of a successful technology services business, from lead generation and customer relations to delivery and operations (not to mention management and strategy recommendations).
The real question many are probably asking right now is “how will the CompTIA Channel Standards help me?” The answer, for most, is three-fold:
- Self-evaluation of the business. A companion Workbook is part of the program, allowing providers to have those crucial internal conversations that drive improvement. It will help them to identify areas of strength and those that need upgrades, with specific recommendations that, if implemented properly, should produce positive effects.
- Engage with education and resources available. CompTIA’s Insights and Tools and Education resources can be tied to each of the Channel Standards. Many of these materials and tools are free of charge, but our Premier Members have open access to use and leverage the entire portfolio.
- Demonstrate Compliance. This final point applies to the upcoming Cybersecurity Channel Standard and the existing Security Trustmark+, which includes an independent assessment of adherence based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. By shifting our focus to the preparation and application of security best practices, regulatory compliance is more sensible and achievable than ever.
As I mentioned. CompTIA’s IT Solution Provider Channel Standards are foundational. Over the next few months, we’ll roll out several others that help VARs and MSPs enhance their business specializations. Those “concentrations” include:
- Managed Services
- Managed Print Provider
- Advanced Digital Solutions
One goal of the CompTIA Channel Standards is to ensure those in our segment of the IT industry have a clear path to the future. With the lightening-fast technology innovations and shifting needs of the business community, solution providers simply have to get better at what they do…or at some point, they won’t be doing it anymore. Channel Standards will give them a roadmap to improvement and logically connect them to the most relevant resources to get them there.
The Channel Standard and accompanying Workbook are free to download, so there is no risk and loads of potential benefit. You may find your business is in need of a little attention behind the scenes, or maybe learn you’re a step ahead of your peers. Either way, that knowledge can be leveraged for planning, service delivery, differential marketing, sales, and helping your clients achieve their goals.
The gauntlet has been thrown. Will the channel rise to the occasion? Success is there for the taking…