IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

How Culture Can Breed Success

As part of a move to an MSP model, Results Technology transformed its culture around a core value system that’s based on helping people and was developed internally from the ground up. By Patrick Murphy

TEN YEARS AGO, Results Technology purposefully made a full-blown culture change that engaged and empowered everyone in our company. The result? We started growing 40 percent year over year.

The impetus was a need to remake ourselves from a mover of big iron, integrations, and break-fix to a managed services provider. Things were good, but we could see down the road. We decided that if we were going to change we needed to set a new foundation, redefine ourselves, and get buy-in from everyone.

We sat down as a group and asked, “Why are we in business?” Making money, of course, but we all agreed there is more to life than that. We came up with what we call our “noble cause” or foundation, which is that we like to help people. So we created and defined five core values, set them down in stone, and from that point forward ran our company based on those tenets. We also renamed ourselves Results Technology.

These are our five values that determine who we are and what we do:

  1. Unwavering integrity and honesty. We tell it like it is, and sometimes we’ve got to deliver bad news. We also need to do the right thing even when nobody’s looking, since we’re working with people’s money.
  2. Deliver it right the first time. It just makes it easier for us. We’ve also developed a set of standards. Our clients look to us as experts in IT, which they should, so we tell them the minimum specifications they need to work with us. If clients don’t want to do that we help them find another MSP.
  3. Manage and communicate expectations. This applies not only to clients but to people internally. We emphasize that if someone asks you to do something and you don’t have time, say so, and then state when you can get it done.
  4. Have respect for every individual. We stress respect for everyone, not only our clients but our peers. If someone suggests a way to solve a problem, even if you disagree, have respect for that person and consider the idea.
  5. Personal and financial responsibility. We have to watch the nickels and dimes not only for our own company but for our clients’ companies as well. That means letting them know if there’s an easier or less expensive way to do something, or if they really don’t need to swap out a server just yet. Our customers trust us, so we take our responsibility seriously to do right by them.

What is key to our success with these values, and really makes them meaningful, is that our employees developed the list and wrote the definitions. The majority of them really grasped the concepts. At the time a lot of companies were developing core values from the top down, but because we developed these in a democratic forum and had buy-in, an employee who wasn’t following our core values stuck out like a sore thumb. We didn’t have to fire anyone—they self-selected.

Making Things Work

Our core values immediately started driving our decisions around what customers to bring on or let go too. We would tell them, “This is what we do and how we do it.” We started to see outstanding growth.

At the time, we also knew we had to put in place a few other things—a vertical focus and documented standards and procedures—to continue to grow and be scalable. We already had a good niche in financial markets, so we turned our focus to small, regional financial institutions as well as businesses with compliance mandates. We have become extremely efficient in delivering compliance services as a result.

Finally, we created BOB, our Big Old Book of standard operating procedures, which we go over with every customer.

Then about five years ago, we changed our model to a per-person fee. Since we like helping people, charging by device didn’t make sense. Now we don’t care how many servers or devices you have. Business owners don’t care either. They just want everything to work.

Embracing our “noble cause” of helping people even extends beyond IT. For example, one of our customers told our technician on-site that the toilet was running constantly, so he fixed that as well as the PC while he was there.

To this day, our employees still hold everyone accountable to our values, including our managers and me. And we’ve found that by following our core values and doing the right thing for our clients and our employees, success comes naturally.

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