When Standards Collide: Choosing the Best for your Clients

Choosing the best standards for your clients is difficult. Many questions arise when deciding what standards are worthy: Are these the best? Can we do better? Are these proper for their industry? I sat down and thought about this conundrum and came to this conclusion: it depends.

I find myself responding with this answer very often in conversations. Cable or a streaming service? It depends. Ice cream or gelato? It depends. CIS Controls or NIST Cybersecurity Framework? It depends. My reply of “it depends” is not my inability to make a decision, but a stop-gap before answering with what is best from my personal experience.

Our myITprocess software has many templates available out of the box. One set provided to members is by default and, aptly named, the Default Template. Upon first login users are greeted by a standards library preloaded with six sections containing 150 questions. The purpose of these standards is to provide a starting point for your alignment process and use them moving forward as long as they align with customer technology goals. They may not be the best standards to use, but they provide you with a content baseline.

So how do you know if you’re using the best standards for your customers? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I skipping the same questions every time? – If you find yourself marking questions as N/A on multiple reviews, you probably do not need that question. If you cannot or will not answer it, or just “putting it off until later”, it is probably not that important.
  • Is this question relevant to my customer’s business? – Some questions—especially in the default template—may be too generic or too complex for your clients. If it does not seem to fix their business goals, replace it with something relevant.
  • Why am I married to this standard? – Whatever you do, get rid of that toxic relationship. If you have standards you are trying to make work no matter the outcome, cut it loose.
  • Should I ask for help? – Yes! If you seem stuck or unsure which direction to move in, ask for an outside opinion. If you are running a standards committee be sure to bring this up and ask for direction.

Finding the right standards will not occur overnight. There are many factors an MSP needs to consider before finding the sweet spot. The process of selecting, testing, modifying, and repeating will inarguably take some time, but how long? It depends.

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TOPICS: IT standardsMSP processesMSP software toolsvCIO
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