Switching your IT support company may be beneficial to your business in the long-run. A changeover period can however have a negative impact on productivity, performance and service availability -- when dealt with unprofessionally. Making the switch requires careful consideration.
In this post we aim to help you decide whether it's really time to change your IT provider, and detail what you should look out for in a new IT vendor.
Many small businesses fear the consequences of changing their IT service provider, and refrain from 'jumping ship' too hastily because of the perceived hassle of transitioning.
Risk aversion is healthy, to an extent. But siting tight when you're dissatisfied with the quality of your IT service is counter productive. Change can be positive.
Weigh up the pros and cons of switching your IT service provider. Start by asking yourself the following:
Query any uncertainties with your prospective IT service provider. You should be able to assess the advantages/disadvantages of migrating to them, and draw comparisons to your existing service.
Perhaps for you it's already abundantly clear, without much further contemplation, that it's time to change in your IT service. If that's the case, then one question remains: where to next?
You're aiming to improve on your current IT service by making a switch.
The six points contained in this section form a list of top priorities, detailing exactly what you need to look for. Hopefully this will help you to scrutinise IT vendors, weigh up your options, and ultimately make an informed choice on where to go next.
Now for the top six things to look for when switching IT providers...
Most IT services look to tie customers down to 12 month (or longer) contract periods. This is a huge commitment for small businesses to make.
Business owners are often cagey about signing up to long-term contracts with current (or prospective) IT service providers. Understandably. Unless a service has proven itself as reliable, dependable and professional, then what incentive is there to commit?
Putting pen to paper is indeed a gamble that might not pay off. The prospect of a long-term renewal is justifiably daunting.
It's your business, and you want to remain in full control.
If you're not entirely confident about making a long-term commitment, then aim for an IT service that offers short-term contracts. Look for flexible IT support plans -- such as 3-month, 6-month and rolling contracts -- to suit your requirements. Some agreements also stipulate a simple break clause, allowing you to cut loose if you're unhappy.
Once you're satisfied with the quality of a service, you'll choose to continue working with them in the future.
It's difficult to maintain a positive working relationship with your IT service provider when you're constantly told that numerous software applications or devices aren't covered in your support plan. So be aware of hidden pitfalls hidden within the small print.
Signing a simple, transparent agreement -- with minimal small print -- is crucial for establishing trust between IT vendor and client. It sets a precedent.
Identify an approachable company that prides itself in maintaining complete transparency in all areas of business -- including their IT service agreements. Discuss your specific requirements, and learn about the IT solutions they're able to deploy. Try to get a 'feel' for whether you'll be able to work and grow together -- for the long haul.
A trust worthy IT Support Agreement should be:
An IT service shouldn't ever create loopholes to throw back onto their clients. After all, happy clients means repeat business. If they're a stable, professional outfit looking to expand in the future, then they'll value your satisfaction.
Some IT vendors fail to consistently provide the high-quality service they promised. It's common to find disappointed clients, unable to resolve ongoing IT issues within their business.
Service level shortfalls usually occur when a help desk is understaffed, overworked, or a combination of both. Furthermore, if a dedicated IT engineer is off sick, or leaves the IT company, then your service is likely to suffer as a result. These issues exist in almost any type of client-based business -- it's nothing specific to the IT industry.
Try to obtain feedback from existing/past clients to establish the reputation of the provider. Be suspicious of providers who can’t provide recent, relevant references. Always seek a vendor that consistently meets SLA's -- because missing deadlines results in lost productivity and profits.
Top IT Services preempt bottlenecks and position themselves to act upon every scenario. They'll take every possible measure to ensure that their staff are flexible, and of course capable, of accommodating all clients. A successful IT business must manage factors such as:
Coping with constraints is essential for maintaining high standards and delivering a first-rate service. Ensure that your IT vendor recognises their own limitations, and is proactive in mitigating them.
One of the most frustrating aspects of running your own business is the inability to resolve technical issues -- especially when you're already paying good money for IT engineers. Unfortunately this is a reality for some business owners.
On-site visits, in particular, tend to have slow turnarounds. If it takes hours for your existing IT company to investigate a business-critical problem, and days to resolve them, then that's unacceptable.
Large-scale technical issues can prevent your company from working and growing. Downtime costs businesses thousands of pounds in lost revenue. You need a responsive service that you can depend on.
Efficiency is key. It means everything to the longevity of an IT business, as well as your own.
In the event of a business-critical emergency, a helpline should be at-hand to investigate your issue right away. If they cannot fix the problem there and then, expect them to dispatch a support engineer to your site within the shortest possible time frame.
For faster response times, look for an IT service that focuses on serving local businesses. A firm that's conscious about the geographical location of their clients suggests their priority is providing fast, reactive support.
Query the personnel at the IT vendor, too. You want to learn that staff are skilled, continually trained, incentivised -- and ultimately satisfied in their roles. These signs may signify low staff turnover, which generally helps in meeting SLA's and maintaining a reliable service.
An IT service needs to have proficient, knowledgeable staff. Having collective expertise across a wide variety of software and hardware -- both old and new -- is essential for providing a first rate service to clients with diverse requirements.
Try to find an IT vendor with support engineers that are experts across an array of technologies -- including cloud computing, cross-platform environments, office applications, and the latest computer hardware.
But keep in mind that technology changes frequently. IT firms must constantly research new technologies and train staff on how to use them. The most successful vendors are those that continuously evolve their skill set, in order to recommend & support the latest technologies.
Be wary of managed service providers who will only work with a proscribed list of technologies, you should have control of your own technology choices.
Today's digital age brings new rules and regulations into play. Growing firms need to be aware of them, and remain complaint.
Data protection and legal compliance is a very ‘hot’ topic right now — particularly as the new EU GDPR enforcement comes into place on 25th May 2018. Some IT services aren't currently accredited, and this could pose a stumbling block in the future.
Find out whether your prospective IT firm has made all of the necessary adjustments to ensure they're up to date with the latest legislation. The GDPR is so heavily related to IT, that they may even be able to help you prepare for the change, too.
We understand how vital IT is to the running of your business. That's why we endeavour to provide a first rate service, starting with a hassle and stress free transition from your existing IT provider.
The success of our service, and our ability to outperform competitors, is hinged on maintaining high standards and strong long-term relationships with our clients. So if you're unhappy with your current service, or see room for improvement, then don’t be afraid to contact us for a no-obligation, free of charge, site survey. This will help us to understand your current IT issues, and tailor a proposal that vastly improves your situation.
Let us take the stress out of changing your IT support company.