The challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic have been unprecedented in modern times. Most sectors of the economy have struggled with reduced demand or the inability to operate, while a small few have thrived due to skyrocketing demand for their product or service.
During such times of uncertainty, you need an IT provider you can depend on. The situation in our state and around the country remains dynamic and uncertain. The past few months will have proved a real test of your IT provider’s knowledge, experience, work ethic and dedication to your business. They should have been instrumental in ensuring your business was able to operate throughout the lockdown by introducing custom-made remote-working solutions that did the job and fitted the bill!
So what should you look out for to identify a poor IT provider? In this article, we’ll explore a few of the signs that indicate an IT provider that isn’t up to the job of keeping your business running through tough times.
Signs of inexperience
While working from home is a new experience for many of us, your IT provider should have the knowledge and experience required to help you make the transition. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of work was slowly beginning to adopt more flexible ways of working that required new and innovative solutions. Cloud services, for example, have been around for a while, and your provider should have had the knowledge to help you adopt new cloud-based solutions such as Microsoft 365, hosted VoIP, VPNs, Virtual hosted desktops etc in order to address the challenges of remote working. The IT space is constantly evolving meaning any knowledge and skills gaps soon become obvious. Because of this ongoing training and staff development is vital in the IT sector.
So how do you identify a skilled, experienced IT provider? It’s simple, look for or enquire about:
- Client testimonials/ case studies.
- Evidence of investment in staff development and continuous training.
Additionally, you might want to enquire about how long a provider has been in business. The IT market is a crowded space and the best providers tend to remain in business the longest – although this in itself is no guarantee of quality service.
Lacklustre response times
You’ll no doubt have seen IT providers boast about their response times. And sure, while a fast average response time or response-time guarantee is an alluring prospect, it’s important to distinguish between ‘response times’ and ‘resolution times.’ ‘Response times’ basically just refer to the time taken for a support ticket to be acknowledged not the time taken for the issue to be addressed. As a result, it is fairly easy to ensure a swift response time; sending a quick scripted email isn’t difficult!
Despite the challenges IT providers are facing in the current climate you should still expect response time guarantees to be closely honoured. If your provider guarantees a response time of one hour you should hold them to that, and you should expect business-critical issues to be dealt with much more quickly! If your provider has abandoned its response time commitments this could be a sign of a disorganised or under-resourced helpdesk. There is also the possibility that your provider has used false response time pledges as a marketing exercise to get new customers through the door.
An obvious lack of Security protocol
When businesses outsource their IT many assume their provider will adhere to impeccable security practices, however, this can be a dangerous assumption to make, as many don’t!
Spotting the signs of poor security can be tricky but signs of poor practice include a lack of endpoint device protection against malware, poor patch management, a lack of preventative maintenance resulting in a high number of support requests and no provision of additional access requirements such as multi-factor authentication. Also, don’t be afraid to enquire about Cyber Security accreditations such as government-backed ‘Cyber Essentials Plus’ certification, as this ensures your provider has taken the steps necessary to guard against all but the most sophisticated of cyber threats.
They won’t be held accountable
The relationship between IT providers and their clients is one of ‘collective responsibility.’ Your provider has a responsibility to offer solutions that pose a level of risk that is acceptable to your business, while you and your team have a responsibility to follow and act on advice given by your provider.
Mistakes happen, and when they do it is important that the party responsible accepts responsibility so that no ill-feeling develops between your business and your IT provider. If your IT provider is blaming your business for everything that goes wrong at every opportunity then it may be time to find a provider who’ll treat you and your business with the respect you deserve.
They’re not willing to educate
Good IT providers invest time in ensuring their clients understand the systems they are using. When companies outsource their IT, many hope to tap into a world of expert knowledge. Good IT support is more than the provision of hardware and running a helpdesk, it’s also about ensuring technology is user-friendly and sometimes this involves one-on-one guidance and mentoring. If your provider offloads the tech but leaves you in the dark with it then you should find an IT partner who’ll invest in that all-important provider-client relationship.
They’re clueless about your business and your sector
Different sectors face unique operational challenges and often have industry-specific IT requirements. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to IT support so ideally, your provider will have experience working with businesses in your sector.
They should also have some level of commercial awareness and be able to explain how a particular solution might affect your business’ commercial goals or how soon return on investment might be achieved. You adopt new technologies mainly to improve efficiency, drive sales and increase revenue and your IT provider should be mindful of this. If every phone call sounds like a sales pitch with no mention of how a solution will help your business specifically it may be time to look elsewhere.
No proactive maintenance/monitoring capabilities
Not all IT providers have proactive maintenance and monitoring capabilities but using one that does is usually a sensible investment. Tackling issues before they arise prevents downtime and reduces the number of support ticket submissions, which will improve the reliability of your service and could save you money in the long run.
We appreciate that IT support may not be top of your agenda at the moment, having just come out of 3 months of lockdown. However, the past 3 months may have given you a chance to evaluate your IT provider’s performance. Remember that IT support should help your business thrive and protect it during times of uncertainty, so if your provider has failed to meet the lockdown challenges it may be time to look elsewhere for your IT support needs.
We’re Elixis Technology
In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.