We understand that appraising an IT provider can be difficult when you don’t understand information technologies. It is a similar feeling to choosing a mechanic when you don’t understand automotive repair.
It puts you in a tight situation where you need professional guidance and support, but you don’t know where your expectations should be set. Sadly, some businesses become locked-in with an inadequate provider and are afraid to look elsewhere because the next one could be worse. In this article we will cover the five most common signs you need a new IT provider.
1.) Always looking for the same technician.
Every time you call your IT provider, only one of their staff members can handle your request.
We hear this a lot and it is usually indicative of one or more of these problems:
There really is only one competent technician on their staff. If this is the case, it speaks to a critical lack of good hiring policies and knowledge. If the company is prioritizing low-cost labor over quality of work, it will affect your business’ efficiency.
Your system had a novel problem which one technician was able to piece together the solution for. However, the service provider does not have an adequate system for notes recording, sharing, or search. This means that the insight into the root cause and solution are only known to the tech who first solved it. This increases response and resolution times as you need a specific resource or to allow the new resource to start from scratch. The general support pool should be able to lean on the root cause analysis of the first case to resolve it quickly, no matter who answers the phone.
They require more staff and are overworking their current technicians. This causes the overall accuracy and performance to drop within their staff, and we all know that some people handle stress better than others. What is important is that the provider has a growth plan to accommodate increasing end-user counts by hiring new employees. A general rule is 70-150 end users per technician, but automation and skill levels can skew this formula.
2.) The same thing keeps breaking in the same way, and no one knows why.
This is another red flag, especially if you are working with a break-fix only company.
Here are the usual reasons for this:
The IT Provider does not perform any detailed analysis into the root cause of the issue. This means no preventative processes can be developed, nor risk acceptance be performed. The same cause will produce the same effect each time.
The IT Provider is only implementing a work-around and not a true fix. This can be dangerous as it produces a false sense of security for the client. Sure, sometimes solutions don’t equate to permanent fixes; but when they don’t it should be addressed with a new approach. If the solution continues to fail, research into new solutions or entire alternatives to the current system should be addressed.
3.) They only offer reactive (break-fix) support.
Businesses can’t take a reactionary stance to data security, downtime, or information loss. Managed IT services should proactively support your business from day to day, learning how to support you better, and offering guidance on areas to improve efficiency and security. On-demand IT services cannot reclaim lost revenue from downtime, but managed IT services can prevent it.
4.) No service level agreement (SLA)
The service level agreement specifies, well, the level of service you are contractually required to receive. Having no SLA is a red flag, as you have nothing by which to hold the provider accountable. Service level agreements vary considerably, but usually define:
Resources you are being provided, how and when they are available. Help desk contact information, after-hours numbers, alternative contact information, etc. should be defined here for reference by the client.
How severity levels are defined. Most providers will appraise a severity onto a particular request, and all service timing is based on the severity. They should explain what parameters they use to define this.
First response times for each severity level. This is important. This indicates how fast they are obligated to begin working on your request. Remember, they will be handling multiple clients so this allows the provider to focus their resources on the greatest need. Example: Low severity issues might have 2 or 5 days for first response, but critical issues may have a maximum time to first response of 2 hours. Note: It is not common for there to be an resolution guarantee or time-frame. This is because some problems are inherently beyond the scope or power of the provider to correct.
5.) You don’t have any IT support at all.
Without in-house or outsourced IT, you are running a serious risk to your business.
Cyber attacks on small and micro businesses are increasing at an alarming rate. Beyond those threats, total data loss can cause a business to be unable to operate and can be caused by mechanical failure, fire, crime, or natural disasters.
If you find your current support suffers from one of these symptoms, you should seriously consider alternatives. One good place to start is with calculating the impact of your current downtime. Once you know how much money your downtime costs you in addition to how much you pay for your current support, you may be eager to find a new, proactive provider.
If you would like to discuss your current IT coverage, please Contact Us and we will schedule some time with you.