I met with a company this week that is thriving. They have been growing by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, and its run by smart, talented people. The one area where they are struggling is with managing their technology. That’s why they called me. They were essentially asking how to tell if you’ve outgrown your IT provider. Here are some tips.
Red Flags and How to Spot Them
If you know what to look for spotting the indicators that you’ve outgrown your IT provider is straightforward. Here are some common issues that can tell you everything is NOT ok.
If your IT solution is properly sized for your business, you will be able to get responses to technical questions and help in a reasonable amount of time. Waiting days for a response is unacceptable, and its likely an indicator that your provider isn’t staffed properly to meet your needs.
The business I met with this week happens to be using a VERY small IT shop for their support needs. Their provider has no more than 5 employees. That was ok when these guys were small and had fewer needs. In the last year they have grown to over 100 employees at a couple of different locations and their technology needs have increased significantly. Their tiny provider has other customers as well and seems to be spread VERY thin. It shows in how long it takes them to respond to normal support requests.
Tiny providers just don’t have the manpower to help a company of this size and their other clients as well. Its also more difficult to scale when you’re tiny, and this make them tend to not be very agile. Poor response time is a key indicator that you’ve outgrown your current IT solution.
Reactive Vs Proactive
Another Indicator that you may have outgrown your IT provider is that they are only reactive. You only see or hear from them if something is broken at that moment. Maintenance is frequently neglected until something breaks.
This is common in tiny shops as the one mentioned above. They have very few resources, and as a result run from one fire to another all day. This doesn’t leave any time for proactive maintenance that would prevent problems, and the lack of maintenance creates more fires. It can be a dangerous cycle.
If your provider is sized right, they will have resources available to meet your day-to-day needs and have staff that can attend to or automate the maintenance that needs to be done. When things are well maintained there are less fires, and there is more time to spend making things better. It also frees up the IT provider to plan, develop reporting, and be a better partner. Proactive IT is a huge benefit to your business, and if your provider is too busy putting out fires its likely an indicator you’ve outgrown them.
In extreme cases when a provider is spread too thin for a long time their clients may start to see solution gaps. The business I met with this week didn’t know whether they had any backups on their data. That’s a significant problem.
They were also unsure about their current security solutions and posture. After looking around, I can tell you things are in bad shape. It’s almost as if their current provider got so busy, they only had time to do the bare minimum to keep things running, and key solutions like backups and security seemed largely neglected. This is a huge risk for the business.
If you find yourself missing key IT solutions such as backups or security, its an indicator that you need to start looking for a new provider right away.
Lack of Reporting for Planning Purposes
Another thing that I’ve noticed can be an indication that you’ve outgrown your IT provider is a lack of reporting.
When your business is small, and you only have 10 computers things are easy to keep track of. You may even know in your head about how old each machine is, who’s using it etc. When your company scales to over 100 computers at multiple locations it’s no longer simple.
Not knowing what computers or servers you have, how old they are, or other details about your network can cause problems. If you have quality reporting for inventory it becomes much simpler to manage. This type of reporting is difficult for a small IT shop to produce because they frequently don’t have the toolset needed to generate it. If they do have the tools, they still may not have the time.
Budgeting becomes an issue as you don’t know what to plan for. Old technology doesn’t get replaced on time because nobody realizes how bad it is until it starts to cause problems.
All these issues are solved with a provider that proactively meets with their clients and gives them sufficient reporting and strategic planning. If your provider doesn’t take the time to meet with you, go through the reports, and plan, its likely an indicator that you’ve outgrown them.
If you see any of these red flags from your current provider, it might be time to make a change to a solution that is a better fit. i.t.NOW offers guaranteed response times, proactive network monitoring and maintenance, ensures you have the key solutions that matter and meet regularly with each client to provide critical reports and plan for the future.
We can help you too. Call us today!