It’s easy for an IT support provider to promise the earth. But are you getting the type of service your organisation deserves from your current package? To check that you’re not being shortchanged, here are some important areas to focus on…
Do you regularly get a ‘nasty surprise’ when invoices arrive?
As with all business services, you require certainty on what your level of outlay is going to be – otherwise it becomes almost impossible to budget accurately. If you’ve been with a provider for a lengthy period, there’s a danger of being regarded as a ‘cash cow’ – i.e. the type of company who will pay up every month without looking in any great detail at what’s being charged. You have a sneaking suspicion that the amount being asked for seems steep, but you don’t challenge it.
There are several ways that an unscrupulous provider could seek to take advantage of you here: by keeping the invoice deliberately vague (by simply listing “services provided, for instance); by trying to bamboozle you with a charge for technical services that isn’t properly explained – and even by adding something onto the invoice that you simply haven’t received.
If you get a surprise, it’s important to refer back to the contract and to flag up any areas of confusion with your provider. If the amounts due tend to fluctuate wildly from month to month, your business could be better off by switching to a provider who will work with you on an inclusive price package – so nasty surprises will become a thing of the past.
Are outages becoming routine?
The annual Allianz risk barometer demonstrates that the risk of business interruption is the top concern of business owners. This should be regarded as the ‘acid test’ for your IT support provider: the extent to which it is able to put in place and maintain an IT infrastructure that keeps outages to an absolute minimum.
If crashes and/or periods offline are becoming an all too regular occurrence, then quite simply, your current provider is not fulfilling its obligations. It could be that your infrastructure is groaning under the weight of your organisation’s data, and/or it may be that the issue of connectivity needs to be reviewed. Either way, it’s probably time to look elsewhere for a partner if you want your business to avoid leaking revenue needlessly.
Are response times slower than advertised?
Your package promises an immediate response in the event of a malfunction or outage. Your disaster recovery planning involves making immediate contact with that provider in order to get the issue addressed as soon as possible. But then what happens? Whenever you need assistance quickly, if you find yourself having to hang on for a reply – and waiting even longer for help to arrive, your support provider is effectively the weak point of your DR plan – when it should be the linchpin of it.
It’s easy to overlook minor delays in fixing minor problems – but this is in fact, something to be very concerned about. If you are hit by a major problem, the same lax approach to service could have a significant detrimental effect on your organisation’s ability to get back up and running without taking a major financial hit.
Are you always having to make suggestions to your provider – instead of vice versa?
If your provider does not seem to ‘get’ what your business is all about, it’s going to be almost impossible for that company to help you put together the type of package that best meets your needs. Do you always feel behind when it comes to having the most effective possible infrastructure in place? Do your competitors seem able to scale up with ease, while you are left struggling with an unwieldy setup?