How do you feel each time you get an invoice from your IT provider? Does it seem reasonable? It may be that you suspect that something’s not quite right and you’re not getting value for money, but you just can’t pin down the problem. To help you decide whether you’ve got grounds for complaint – not to mention a very good reason to move elsewhere – here are six areas to focus on.
Ask for a breakdown of the invoice
What exactly are your IT providers doing and how much are they charging for each task? If the summary of services provided on your monthly invoice tends to be vague, this can be a useful warning sign that something might be amiss.
If the description is something along the lines of “Services provided” and then simply a total figure, ask for an itemised breakdown along with confirmation of how much has been charged for each item. If there appear to be rogue entries (i.e. things you simply haven’t received), flag these up with the company. It’s also important to go back through previous invoices to see whether it’s a recurring problem.
Check you are using each of the services you are paying for
Before putting together a suitable range of services for a new client, a best-in-class IT provider will look closely at the client’s needs and take time to understand the business. The aim is to make sure the client gets a package that includes everything they need – and nothing they don’t.
Sadly for the reputation of the industry, not all IT providers take this approach. Some see a new client as an opportunity to upsell as many services as they can get away with, regardless of whether those services are going to be relevant to that client.
Take a look to check that you actually use what you are paying for. Are you having to house and maintain servers that far exceed your storage requirements? Have you been talked into paying for software that simply isn’t useful in your business niche? Do you have too many licences for the size of the firm? Are you paying extra for lots of different messaging services when you only need one? Each of these could be signs that you’re not getting value for money.
Are you paying extra for core services?
It may be that what you thought was going to be included as part of your core package of services is in fact being charged for as an additional extra. Look closely at the original contract. Are you being charged extra for any items that are listed as ‘standard’?
Challenge call-out fees
Let’s say the contract stipulates that call-outs for routine maintenance and upkeep are included in your package. Non-routine call-outs are charged extra. Look closely at any call-out charges detailed on your invoices to ensure you are not being charged as a matter of course for the type of routine on-site visits that should be included in your deal.
Challenge response times
Prolonged and frequent outages can cost businesses dearly. If the contract stipulates that a systems engineer will be with you within a certain timeframe after receiving notification of a problem and if these time targets are breached as a matter of routine, you’re not getting the level of service you are paying for.
Ask for flexibility
The contract you have with your IT provider shouldn’t be cast in stone. There should be flexibility to add or remove services as the needs of your business change – without you being hit by a financial penalty.
If the provider won’t budge on the terms and insists on paying for things you don’t need, it’s time to move on.