Technology is critical to almost every business today. Many small and medium businesses turn to an outsourced IT provider to help manage that technology. Not all IT providers are created equal. Here are our tips on how to tell when your IT provider is failing.
Ask Your Employees
Start by doing an informal survey with your staff. Ask them what their experience has been with the current provider. How quickly do they respond? When they respond are they helpful? Do problems get solve on the first call? When there are complicated issues are they escalated according to a process? Do things go into a black hole? Do they communicate effectively?
Listen to the positive and the negative and take some notes. Make sure that you interview folks from different departments and see if you can identify patters. This feedback will probably make it pretty clear to you what your team thinks of your provider.
One of the first things that will come up in your discussion with your employees is whether your provider keeps their promises or not. If they aren’t good at calling back when they say they will you’ll likely hear about it. If request go into a black hole, you’ll hear about that too. A provider offering guaranteed response times should be able to provide some reporting to check if they’re responding within the time frame promised. If not, it’s a strike against them.
Beyond response time and communication, you should see if they are keeping their other promises. Backups are a great example. Most IT providers manage backups for their clients. Those backups will be set to complete on some regular basis. Usually daily, and sometimes more often. If you have access to view the status of the backups take a minute to do so. If you find your backups have been failing frequently without intervention, it’s bad news. It could also be an indicator that there are other things being overlooked. Broken promises are one good way how to tell if your IT provider is failing.
Security is another area to investigate. Ask questions about the security solution that is currently in place. Look at the solutions being used and compare them to what they described when the deal was sold. Did they promise perimeter protection? Did they promise a strong firewall and endpoint antivirus? Is multi-factor authentication in place? If there are gaps in your current solution have, they identified them? Have you discussed it?
Another critical piece of IT security is ensuring that all Microsoft patches and updates get applied in a timely manner. This is also something that’s easily checked. You can either ask your provider for reporting on patches and updates, or randomly check a few machines by looking at the status of patches in windows update. Sometimes checking machines will get you a slightly more accurate view of the typical state, as asking for a report may prompt your provider to run patches before giving you a report.
The best providers will meet with you at some regular interval to provide you reporting on all key functions of your IT. They will be transparent about response time and SLA fulfillment, status of backup, status of patches and updates, hardware inventory and reporting, and more.
They will also work with you to plan upcoming projects and look toward the future. A key point of contact will manage your account and be with you every step of the way. If your provider doesn’t have an account manager that can be your advocate, you may be missing a key part of an effective solution.
Another problem that some clients run into is inaccurate billing. Maybe you have a change in staffing, but the provider continues to bill you for that user. A recent review of a new clients Office 365 subscriptions found over $250 per month in accounts they were being billed for that hadn’t been in use for a long time. The best providers will audit licensing and billing for you to ensure accuracy.
How to tell if your IT Provider is failing – Conclusion
If your IT provider is falling short, it can cost your business significantly. Increased downtime because of slow response can make your staff unproductive. Broken promises and poor communication can cause frustration and friction. Poor security can lead to a costly breach, downtime, ransoms, and damage to your brand and reputation.
A failing IT provider can damage your business. Make the decision to find a quality IT provider that has systems in place that allow them to fully deliver on the promises they make. Your business will thank you.