Outsourcing your IT services can lower your expenses and give you access to today’s most advanced technology. These are common reasons why businesses large and small choose outsourced IT providers. However, there are pros and cons of outsourcing. For instance, while you can definitely lower your costs, you also lose control of one area of business that can significantly affect your daily operations.
A recent study conducted by the Everest Group revealed that 48 percent of all business owners are unhappy with their current IT service provider.
In spite of the drawbacks, many of today’s small business owners see the value in outsourcing their IT infrastructure. However, the most discriminating business owners do quite a bit of research before selecting an IT service provider. This practice is highly recommended. It helps you avoid companies that don’t provide value-added services and are only in it for the money. Business owners need to know some very important things about their IT provider before ever signing a contract.
In spite of extensive research, business owners and managers still find themselves in relationships with IT service providers who simply aren’t doing their jobs. This can be a troubling area that fuels a great deal of frustration among business members.
Why Stay in a Bad Relationship?
Given that choosing a new provider is such a big deal, small business owners have been known to drag their feet when it comes to searching for a better IT provider. We all do that. We tend to think that a business relationship will improve if we just give it time. But eventually, that gnawing feeling in your stomach gets the best of you and you begin to ask your colleagues how they like their IT service provider.
After they spend ten minutes raving about their optimized infrastructure, you have to finally admit that it may be time to break up with your current IT service provider and look for greener pastures. It happens to all business owners and often it results in your company getting much stronger managed IT services for about the same money. Instead of dreading the process, why not dive in? What have you got to lose? Just be sure it’s time to take that leap.
Below, we go over seven effective ways you can tell whether you need to hire a new IT service provider:
One: Are They Proactive?
If your service provider only comes out when there’s a problem, then you may need to find a new provider. An IT company that stays on the ball and ahead on any disruptions to service is crucial in today’s business climate. With all the new software, firmware, apps and programs, there’s a constant need to stay on top of things. As the business owner, you shouldn’t have to worry about these things. If you’re paying good money to outsource your IT services, it’s their job to keep the system purring like a kitten.
It’s also their job to make sure you have all the recent necessary patches. Your data should have the highest level of protection from cyber thieves. Your programs, IT tools and services should be top-notch. You shouldn’t have to ask about this or worry constantly that you’re not getting the most timely updates.
Two: Industry Certifications
With everyone trying to cut their expenses and raise their profits, an IT service provider might be tempted to hire poorly trained technicians. As everyone knows, employees who are well-trained and certified in the pertinent fields are going to expect larger salaries. However true that may be, no business owner wants to see a technician working on the computers that he saw working at a fast-food joint just last week. Don’t be bashful about asking questions.
You have a right to expect that those who come out to update or repair your computers are properly trained and certified in the latest programs. A few of the most common certifications are:
- CompTIA Mobility+
- CompTIA Network+ CE
- CompTIA A+ CE
- CompTIA Server+ CE
- MCP Windows 7
- MTA Networking & Operating Systems
- MTA Mobility & Security
Three: Strategic Partnerships
Every vendor and third-party supplier you work with should be on board with the plan to help your company succeed. After all, your success is their success. This is something all IT service providers should understand. Do you honestly feel that your IT company is working hard to make sure you can compete well in today’s diverse business culture? This is an important issue that has become more and more essential.
Too often, business owners are unfamiliar with their IT service people. They don’t have a key contact person they can speak to about upgrades, problems or new services. It can almost feel like your IT services are outsourced to some guy somewhere, but you really don’t know much about whoever it is. If this describes your current relationship with an IT service agency, then it may be time to change the game plan. You need a go-to person that is familiar with your company and knows your equipment; someone who can speak intelligently about any concerns you may be having.
Four: Updating to the Best Technology
With the world of computers, networking and the Cloud moving so fast, innovative products and services are arriving at ever-increasing speeds. However, your main concern must be all about running your business. The whole reason you outsource your IT services is so that you don’t have to run out and take college courses in topics like the Internet of Things (loT), private cloud enablement, and SaaS implementation.
IT service providers can be found in every city, and they all claim that they will give your company the best products and services. However, computer technology is rapidly changing. New advancements come along each year. It’s critical to modernizing your legacy infrastructures in order to drive better digital services across your enterprise. However, you need to know that this is being done whether you keep close tabs on it or not. Your IT service provider should be talking to you regularly about ways to improve your services and cut your costs.
Five: Protection Against Cyber-Theft
2015 saw a huge increase in the number of cyber-thefts, and because of this, businesses, organizations and the government greatly increased their network protection. In spite of these efforts, 2016 was even worse. During that year, the U.S. Department of Justice lost the personal information of 20,000 FBI employees. This represents not only a monetary loss but a substantial security breach for the FBI. Even the IRS was hacked, losing all the personal information for 100,000 taxpayers. FACC, an Austrian aerospace manufacturer, was hacked as well. This time, the cyber thieves stole over $54 million in cash right out of their bank accounts.
These large companies should have the best protection against cyber-theft, so how were their databases penetrated? This is a troubling question with no clear answer. Many small business owners feel that their business will not become a target of thieves because there are so many other Big Fish to fry. This simply isn’t true. Small businesses are equally at risk from cyber-thieves. It’s your IT service provider’s job to ensure that you have the latest and best protection against intrusion. One cyber breach could cost you millions of dollars and ruin your business’s reputation.
Six: Written Documentation
It’s one thing to speak to your IT service provider, but written documentation is essential. It’s part of their job to provide you with the best equipment and services, but you should have this in writing. Each time the IT service professionals work on your equipment, you can expect a full written report of what was done to your equipment. Any new updates should be fully outlined and documented.
Don’t accept a hand-written note from your service guy as proof of recent equipment updates. A well-established, professional IT provider understands the importance of proper documentation. This will prove to be invaluable in case you ever suffer a cyber-breach. Though cyber breaches have become common, those impacted often file civil lawsuits against the company that lost their personal information. One of your best safeguards against being found guilty of not properly protecting customer data is a sound paper trail.
Seven: Fast Response Times
We’ve all sat at home all day and waited for the cable guy to show up, but this is simply unacceptable for a professional IT services provider. Look for companies that offer guaranteed response times. Make sure your service provider has a 24/7 hotline you can call when there’s trouble. When your computers or network is down, you lose money, so insist on quick service. Good service means that a repairman shows up on time and gets the problem fixed promptly. If the repairman takes three days to get to your service call, then sits around for hours trying to figure out what’s going on, you’re not getting the service you deserve.
As with everything in life, we can all get complacent. However, when complacency leaves your employees sitting around discussing their weekend plans, it’s time to find a new IT service provider. Get your money’s worth and don’t accept flimsy excuses. Your company needs the best IT service provider to compete in this fast-paced world.