Outsourcing your business’s IT services and support sounds great on paper.
You have an entire team of technology experts at your disposal who will take care of everything from server patching to issue remediation to upgrade projects to high-level strategy. Meanwhile, you can focus your time and effort on your actual job, not your technology.
Here’s the rub: Technology support is one of those fields with no standard baseline qualifications; there’s no bar exam equivalent. Anyone with decent web searching skills can convince a non-technical audience that they’re a tech expert.
The end result is that the quality of outsourced IT providers falls along a massive spectrum. Some are outstanding. Some – perhaps neither intentionally nor maliciously – are taking their clients for a ride.
To help make sure your business is getting the right return on your IT investment, here are some top warning signs that your provider is ripping you off:
- You don’t feel like they care about you. If you suspect that your provider isn’t invested in your success, you’re probably right.
- You never see anyone at your office. Whether your systems are on-premises or exclusively cloud-based, you should be getting hands-on, face-to-face support at both a technical and strategic level.
- It’s always a different person working on your issues. Someone needs to “own” your account inside your provider’s firm. This is the only way you’ll get thoughtful support and recommendations.
- You have to oversee their every move internally. This defeats the purpose of outsourcing. Someone in your company will of course need to interface with your IT team. But they shouldn’t have to waste their time riding herd.
- Your systems keep breaking. At some point, technology will break. This should be the exception, not the rule.
- The more your systems break, the more money your provider makes. Your provider should not have a blatant financial incentive to not solve your problems.
- Your people can’t work without some kind of issue cropping up. Your technology should drive your business objectives forward, not hinder them.
- You’re buying tons of new equipment and don’t know why. There is rarely ever one option with technology upgrades. If you’re presented with a massive hardware investment and no alternatives, be wary.
- People look at you funny when you say you aren’t in the cloud. Cloud computing offers incredible advantages as far as security, reliability, mobility, flexibility, and scalability. If you aren’t leveraging these benefits yet, there needs to be a compelling reason why.
- You’re on Windows 7 and you haven’t been approached with an upgrade plan. After January 14, 2020, Windows 7 machines will be highly vulnerable to a security breach. The time to plan your transition is now -- not when it becomes an emergency.
- You don’t get a yearly IT budget. There’s no reason you should be caught unawares by spikes in support costs or huge upgrade costs. IT investments can be predictable.
- “Tech” has become a 4-letter word in your office. Water cooler talk should revolve around fun weekend plans and good business ideas, not how terrible your technology and your IT people are.
If these symptoms sound familiar, there’s good news: there are companies out there who can take better care of your technology, your people, and your business.
As you work to identify which provider is the best fit for you going forward, here are some good questions to ask during the interview process, and here’s how you can identify whether a firm will provide truly “proactive” support.
As originally published in the American City Business Journals.