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Tushar Dadarwala

By: Tushar Dadarwala on January 18, 2022

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What Role Does A Technical Alignment Manager (TAM) Play In Managed IT?

Managed Services

If you’ve been researching or talking with managed services providers, you may have noticed a trend. Most MSPs talk about the IT experts they have on staff and how they can help businesses just like yours. 

You may be wondering about these experts and what they do. 

In this article, we’ll explore the role of a technical alignment manager (TAM) and how it leads to optimal IT infrastructure performance.  

I work as a TAM here at Kelser Corporation, a managed services provider (MSP). While all of us at Kelser know that MSPs aren’t for everyone, we are committed to producing informative articles that potential customers can use to figure out if an MSP is right for their organization. 

After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of what a TAM does, how they help customers optimize their IT infrastructure and why they are an important part of the IT team. 

I’ll provide specific examples of some of the ways I’ve successfully helped hundreds of customers. And share stories accumulated during my years of experience as a TAM. 

You’ll see how TAMs optimize customer IT performance through honest advice, technical knowhow, solutions sized to the needs of the organization, and a deep understanding of customer goals and IT infrastructure.

Let’s get started. 

What Is A Technical Alignment Manager (TAM)?

A TAM is a team member who becomes an expert on a client’s IT infrastructure. They provide proactive support for devices, networks, servers, software and more. They make sure that the IT structure is secure, accessible and efficient.

What Does A TAM Do?

TAMs use a balance of technical and people skills to foster trusting relationships with customers that ensure the organization’s best interests are front and center with the MSP.

The TAM is not sales-driven and proactively looks out for the best IT solutions for the customer. 

They provide the following benefits:

Intimate Knowledge Of Customer IT Environment 

Every IT infrastructure has its own quirks. 

The TAM develops and maintains detailed technical knowledge of the unique elements of the client’s IT infrastructure. 

When something goes wrong, the TAM is a knowledgeable troubleshooter who can get to the root of the issue quickly. Because they already know your system, they have a head start toward finding solutions and getting the right people involved. 

Cost- And Time-Saving Enhancements

The TAM digs deep into a customer’s operations to figure out how they work and apply technology solutions that help them work better, smarter, faster, and more efficiently while, at the same time, helping reduce costs.  

  • The Cloud

For example, I’ve helped customers move their data and operations from a physical server to using Office 365 via the cloud

By working in the cloud, the customer’s workforce is able to securely work remotely and access shared files from wherever they are working. The client saves time, space, and the cost of operating and maintaining their own server. 

This is an efficiency of epic proportions. Let me explain. 

    • Device Configuration

With cloud-based operations, the client saves time and money when they need devices for employees. They simply sign off on the work and an MSP’s IT engineers can configure the device virtually. 

It’s no longer necessary for the engineer to spend two hours prepping the device, boxing it back up and scheduling an onsite visit with the user. 

We ship them the configured device with the email address and sign in information and they have access to everything. Not only does it save time in configuration, but it also eliminates the need to meet one-on-one with the user, which can get difficult when trying to coordinate multiple schedules. 

    • Virtual Servers

I’ve helped other customers implement a cloud-based management tool for mobile devices that can protect corporate data on both corporate and BYOD equipment. 

This makes it possible to remove the physical server and the data appliance that backs up the server. 

The customer realizes cost savings because they no longer need to manage and maintain these physical pieces of equipment. Everything is in the cloud, including their backups. 

    • Security

Operating in the cloud also enhances security, giving the option to encrypt emails as needed and the ability to lock down a device that gets lost or stolen.

Recommendations 

Based on their in-depth knowledge of your IT environment, the TAM can recommend enhancements to your systems that will uphold best practices in terms of cybersecurity, overall system performance (based on speed and throughput), user experience, and more. 

The TAM has the unique perspective of knowing what your infrastructure looks like now, what it needs, and how it can be improved to best support your organization’s future needs. 

For example, I’ve helped customers with multiple sites implement firewalls with site-to-site virtual private network solutions that make it possible to share documents across all their sites.

Before this solution was in place, employees at remote sites could not access and print a document. An employee from the main location would need to email it to the remote site, where an employee could then print it. Now, all three sites access documents immediately via the VPN, eliminating delays and extra steps. 

Another multiple-site customer was using an unstable VPN, making it difficult for the sites to connect. We introduced a new firewall solution, which made the organization’s entire infrastructure more secure and stable.

The TAM’s combined knowledge of the industry and your infrastructure makes it possible for them to identify and proactively address technical risks and issues (like the latest cyber threats or regulatory requirements) before they become bigger problems. 

They tailor solutions to your business. For example, not everyone needs all of the bells and whistles of the most robust software license. Or, they help the client decide whether investing in a $5,000 piece of hardware is best or if it would be easier and more cost-effective to migrate to the cloud.

Sizing the solution to the requirements of the business is critical to getting the benefits your business needs without paying extra for things you don’t need.

Communication

A TAM visits the customer’s site(s) on a regular basis. These visits are designed to address technical priorities outlined with the client. Often, during casual conversation during these visits, the TAM learns important information about shifting or upcoming goals. 

The TAM proactively takes these shifting priorities into account and communicates the infrastructure improvements necessary to facilitate the successful realization of the goals. 

The TAM ensures that the client and the MSP are aligned when addressing priorities. Ongoing communications ensure there are no surprises.

The TAM is a conduit of information between clients and the technical experts at the MSP. 

For example, say a client comes to our MSP with a request for 10 additional laptops because their Human Resources group is going to be working from home indefinitely.

A salesperson can easily order the laptops and the client thinks they are all set. 

As a TAM, I would ask:

  • Where is the person remoting from? 
  • Will they need a virtual private network (VPN)?
  • Do they use Sage? Sage doesn’t work through VPN. That will require a completely different remote access setup. 

By asking the right questions up front, the TAM gets a deeper understanding of the customer needs, saving the customer time and money.

Since a TAM works with different clients, they may see that a solution that works for one client can be adapted to address a similar issue at another client. 

As a TAM, when I see the same issue with multiple clients, I raise it internally with my MSP colleagues as an issue that we need to address across the board for all clients. Everyone benefits.

Like with any relationship, communication is key. It’s that constant mindset of “How can I help you? How can we figure this out together? Where do we go from here?”

It's all about commitment and trust. 

Proactive Service, Maintenance and Planning

A TAM is the technical lead for proactive service, maintenance and planning, drives down the need for, cost of, and time sink of reactive support. 

Being proactive also frees up other IT service delivery areas (such as the service desk) and more evenly distributes the workload.

Distributing the workload means there is time to think strategically about all aspects of service delivery (rather than being totally consumed by fighting the daily fires that come up).

Relationship Building

Maintaining a strong relationship between the MSP and the client is an imperative role of the TAM. Like any relationship, this is fostered by effective communication and follow through on promises.

The relationship is fostered when the TAM’s recommendations focus on what is best for the client, rather than what is in the best interest of the MSP. If an MSP is only interested in making money, a trusting relationship will never be built.

Ready To Find Out More?

Now you have a better understanding of the role of a TAM and how it can be a valuable part of the work with an MSP

When you have a strategic partnership between IT and business leadership, there are no surprises. Your technology will be ready and available to support and enhance your business, whether that means being poised for growth, ready for new technology demands, or realizing efficiencies that only technology can achieve.

You may have heard about other technical experts MSPs have on staff like virtual chief information officers (vCIO) and service delivery managers (SDM). 

A virtual chief information officer enables a company to approach IT strategically and prepare its infrastructure to meet future goals. An SDM serves as a liaison between customers and IT engineers, facilitating the exchange of information in language both parties understand.  

Together with network engineers and service (or help) desk staff, these experts form the backbone of the MSP service delivery team. This team handles everything from hardware allocation to cybersecurity, employee awareness training to monitoring, updates and patching, 

Researching and understanding the services MSPs offer is important when deciding whether or not this is the solution your organization needs. To learn even more about how MSPs help customers, read this article: Managed Services: Top Questions From Customers.  

If you are ready to learn more about exactly what an MSP can do to fill the IT needs of your organization, fill out this form and one of our talented reps will contact you.

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