Are You Getting the Most out of Your IT Services Provider?
In my post The Case for Outsourcing IT, I discussed the benefits of engaging a partner that is focused on excellence in the management and delivery of IT as a core competency. Regardless of your industry, technology is most likely not optional but rather a complex, ever changing and essential part of a successful operation. In this post, I want to discuss the concept of “all in” IT support, and the level of service you should be expecting from a trusted IT partner/advisor. Most importantly, I want to provide guidance on how to keep your IT provider performing at the level you need when it comes to such a critical business relationship.
Recently, a friend and relatively new client told me that IT had become like a “bloomin’ onion”, protected by layers of expense that no one can ever seem to finish before the next layer is uncovered. I thought the metaphor was perfect, but also a classic example of the reality that most businesses and executives consistently face when it comes to IT. Quality and competent managed IT does not have to be (and should not be) this painful.
If you have seen any of my previous posts, you now understand that IT Leadership and a healthy IT infrastructure is something that you can achieve without breaking your budget, and likely something that is realistically attainable with the right components in place. When it comes to an “all-in” Managed IT Services or IT support agreement, here are 4 critical questions that can either make or break a good IT partner relationship:
- What does “all in” truly mean? All in should be clear and unambiguous. While “all-in” obviously does not include separate project work (an additional SharePoint migration, for example), additional fees and/or items that aren’t clearly understood should not equate to additional charges every month on top of the “all-in”. If everything is included, why would there be any extra bills? Your level of all-in support should fit the day to day needs of your business, with a clear and predictable cost each month.
- How many change orders will I receive per month? From an “all-in” support perspective, this answer should be ‘none’. Change orders are driven by extenuating circumstances such as a mergers, office moves, etc. and are episodic at best with the right partner.
- Are they using the latest and most efficient technology? This is very simple to figure out. If you are seeing or hearing from engineers when it comes to updates, patches, basic maintenance and reboots, the 90s are calling, and they want their IT support team back. Intelligent systems management is driven by mature technology, delivered through proven processes and tools overseen by technical experts. The concept of safe and systematic maintenance utilizing smart technology is here. As a result of this mature technology, your IT provider should be able to handle much of your work remotely, and pass the efficiency savings on to you.
- Am I secure? If you need to ask, then you probably are not. Professional, modern IT providers have a core IT security team to relentlessly support basic IT management and delivery. Security is at the heart of any IT and business infrastructure so demanding security and compliance services are a must.
If anything is clear about today’s current technology landscape, it’s that it is thoroughly confusing for most business people. As the complexities of the technology you use to run your business increase, so do the myriad of options, price points and opinions. IT support doesn’t have to be confusing or costly. With the right strategic plan, communication and a true partnership, you can optimize technology solutions inside your organization.
If you have questions, schedule a call with an expert.