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Quarterly Business Reviews: Planning for Success

Quarterly business reviews (QBRs) are a valuable service provided by most leading IT service providers to help your organization optimize technology and plan for future IT needs. Read on for an introduction into this powerful tool.

There are lots of different attitudes people take towards technology in their businesses. Some look at technology as an expense that needs to be managed. Others are ambivalent and have both frustrations and enthusiasm depending on what kind of technology you’re talking about. There are some good reasons these attitudes exist in the first place. Most people can relate to technology projects going way over budget, or having to deal with a system that is a bottleneck getting in the way of work, or that ransomware attack that caused so much stress and anxiety.

But technology success usually is achieved when you transcend these attitudes and look at it as a tool for enablement and productivity. If it’s seen purely as a business expense, you aren’t really grasping the costs you are saving or the productivity you are gaining by using these technology tools. To get to that point, you need to make technology planning a disciplined part of your operation. That’s where Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) come in.

What is a Quarterly Business Review (QBR)?

What is a QBR

In the simplest terms, a QBR is when you and your technology advisors take the time to revisit where your technology stands and how to plan for the future. 

 While QBRs may have some discussion of the general support needs of your business, the real goal is to look forward. A QBR is also part of an ongoing conversation and plan, so one QBR should lead into the next.

A few topics you might discuss in a typical QBR include:

  • New apps, tools, or other technology needs.
  • Areas where your current technology needs to change.
    • Often this isn’t so much that the technology has failed, but that the fit may not be the same as it once was.
  • Major business changes, such as office moves, staff changes, or new workflows and processes.
  • Security and Compliance
    • The security and compliance landscape continues to evolve and change, so even if you have been proactive there is a good chance you will still want to review your security needs.

Many of these topics aren’t the types of issues that get resolved with a simple call to the Service Desk, or from a brief email conversation. These topics often have solutions that may not be straightforward or apply the same way to each business, which is why a direct engagement in the form of a QBR is a good discipline to have.

 

How Should I Prepare for a QBR?

Planning for QBR

While managed service providers (MSPs) like DP Solutions want to make the planning and decision-making process as smooth and easy as possible, we can't just take care of everything while you sit back and relax. We are experts at managing IT, but only you and your staff are the experts of your business and needs.

To get the most out of your QBR, it is important to establish one or two individuals in your organization as your technology champions. These people don’t have to be technology experts, but they should understand the importance of technology directly as it relates to what you are all doing with it daily.

To think of it another way, DP Solutions will have a hard time knowing inherently what role video editing software might play in your business. But your technology champion should know who uses that software, what their production schedule is like, deadlines that need to be met, challenges utilizing the software for your business and so on.

Your champions should come to the QBR table with specific information regarding these challenges, points of success or failure for the business, the business changes we referenced in the previous section and so on. This business intelligence will help guide the conversation between technology management experts at DP Solutions and the business experts in your organization.


What Else Should I Know About QBRs? What If I’m Not Prepared?

Portrait of a serious businesswoman using laptop in office

There’s no class or handbook teaching QBR 101. Fortunately, nobody is judging, and even just getting started with the process will lead to benefits to your organization’s technology experience. 

For many organizations who haven’t worked with a MSP before, or perhaps are starting to take a more serious approach to technology management, a QBR might seem intimidating or confusing. 

Keep in mind that QBRs are about having open and consistent dialogue. The best engineers and consultants in the world will never be able to achieve their client’s goals unless a long-term relationship is established. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s OK to not understand a technology concept, or to not know the answers to questions your MSP might ask. Knowing what is unknown helps the process and addressing that just becomes part of the plan.

QBRs may also bring up some concerning items, especially if you are new to this process. Systems that haven’t had consistent management and planning often have big picture problems that need to be addressed before broader strategic initiatives. But problem solving is a natural challenge to technology management. Challenges always pop up, but one of the goals of QBRs is to be able to navigate those challenges in a way that is comfortable and effective.

  

Wrapping Up

It may be tempting to think that everything is good with your technology because you haven’t had any issues. Maybe things are stable, or you haven’t experienced a security incident recently. But just like staying in shape requires the discipline to work out regularly, good technology management requires regular review, discussion, and planning. It doesn’t mean the plan has to be complicated or expensive, but it requires regular review and thought.


Want to learn more or see if a Managed Service Provider can help with your organization’s long-term planning and support? 

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