You are aware your IT environment is not all it should be, and it’s holding back your business. So you call in the consultants or invite a number of managed IT service providers to pitch solutions that will resolve your problems. You and your management team sit through all the presentations and hear what can be done. You understand how doing something – changing this or switching that – will make all the difference to your business.

But then when you take time to consider everything, you find the solutions are all slightly different and the costs are similar. What do you do? How do you decide what is right for your business?

Doing nothing is not a viable option. When the choice is complicated and the solutions presented to overcome a challenge are similar, it’s easy to suffer decision inertia, regardless of the likelihood that the outcome will be less than optimal.

It’s a big decision and not just in terms of cost. You will have to partner with this managed service provider for three to five years. So how do you decide when there is little difference between the solutions and you need to resolve the challenge facing your business?

You could delay the decision, but the problem with IT is that if you wait another year, the problem in your business will have compounded and you will have lost a year’s benefits that could have been delivered by the new solution.

The steering committee or management team will influence your choice, but ultimately the decision rests with you. This is the point at which your instinct becomes important. Trust is a significant factor: out of all the people who can support your business into the next phase, who do you trust the most?

Still not sure? Fortunately, there is an equation that can help define trust:

                                                                 Trust =  credibility + reliability + intimacy

                                                                                           Self-orientation

Credibility: Do they know their stuff? Do they understand the challenges you face? Are their references appropriate and high quality? Do they have experience working in the legal sector?

Reliability: Do they deliver on their promises? Have they been around long enough? Are they stable as a business? Is their team settled?

Intimacy: Do I like them as a business? Do I find their people approachable and engaging?

Self-orientation: This is possibly the most important consideration. Is the suggested solution addressing my interests, or theirs? Is the solution right for my business, or is it just the easiest for them to deliver? Is their offering truly client-centric?

You can see from the equation that the less self-orientated the service provider, the higher they score for trust. Which is what you’d expect. If they care more about delivering the right solution than what is easiest for them, there is a high likelihood that you can trust them.

Trusting a managed service provider you can get along with for the duration of the contract is one way to differentiate when the solutions are all similar. But whatever happens, do something. Doing what you have always done and expecting different results is not an option.