Do you think your IT service provider values your business? Chances are you aren’t sure. If you outsource to a larger provider, it’s unlikely they see you as a valued client. Why? You aren’t spending enough. It isn’t a criticism of them or you, but you must understand that they’re interested in those that deliver the most value. Many have investors who want to see a return. Others may see you as a stepping stone to better things, and you’re likely to be at the bottom of their priority list, unfortunately.
If you’re on the “smaller end” of their portfolio, you might also only be receiving essential break-fix advice. The provider has no investment in your business, and to them, you’re nothing more than a number. Your MSP is an extension of your team, and as such, they should act like it.
It might not seem important, but as time passes, you run the risk of falling behind your competitors. It’s essential to challenge the norm and reflect on the service you get. Whoever you choose as your partner should be privileged to work with you. You shouldn’t be just a number. If they aren’t invested in your business and helping to deliver your longer-term goals, it might be time for a change.
Spotting the warning signs is critical if you want to build a long-term partnership. It can help you keep things on track, and importantly, allow you to make decisions at the right time. You should be more than just a number to your IT provider.
Take a few minutes to think about this one. Do you have a relationship with the senior team within your MSP? If you don’t, and your relationship is with the support staff or account manager, it’s time to review your relationship.
As great as support consultants are, you are being sold short by substituting overall business experience with transactional support and account management services. Building a relationship with your MSP relies on the expertise of its senior team. The understanding and empathy they’ll have to help guide you on your journey are invaluable. It’s important to remember they’re there for you and not the other way round. If they’re in contact regularly, even to see if things are ok, you might be working with the right people.
However, if their sole focus is on retaining your business and increasing your spending, this should be a warning sign. It is never a sound basis to build a successful partnership, which you need to succeed. We all want to work with like-minded people, so make that happen and let them take care of your technology.
Overpromise and under deliver
You’ve probably experienced this at some point. A supplier who promises the earth and when needed, they don’t deliver. Consider how realistic it’s for a provider to guarantee uptime on systems, especially if those systems run on third-party platforms. Guaranteed response times are attractive without a doubt, but how useful are they if a problem occurs, affecting all staff for you to wait 1 hour 59 minutes for the provider to react. They’ve met their SLA, though by one minute, so they’ve delivered as promised.
A member of staff calls the MSP helpdesk with a printing issue. The problem is logged and fixed, and your staff member can go about their business. Great, but any MSP should be able to provide this service. Transactional items are a given. If not, why are you with the provider? What happens, though, if the call relates to a compromised user account. A phishing email has caught out the finance team. Payment is made to a bogus account, and as a business, you’re out of pocket. The MSP resolves the breach and then suggests implementing MFA.
Wouldn’t it be better to work with an MSP who proactively provide advice and guidance, to improve and secure your business? Of course it would, but if you are just a number to your IT provider then you might not get this.
A consultative approach is essential if you’re going to improve technology within your organisation. For example, after a 5-minute discussion about your technology setup, how can any provider say, “you need to change everything”? It’s impossible to make this suggestion without an underlying motive to sell you a service they provide.
Is your MSP an extension of your team?
The key to a good working partnership is a provider you can trust. Do you believe they’ve got your business interests at heart? Or are you just another cog in the wheel? If they’re disconnected from your business, they may no longer be right for business.
Every organisation has difficult decisions to make. Your MSP should be there to help you make sound decisions to help you improve. It shouldn’t be about making a quick sale, but a provider who takes a step back to look at the bigger picture is priceless.
A good provider will give honest feedback. It isn’t always the solution to throw a new piece of software at it. You might need to take a hard look at your processes and undertake a review of how you work.
Bad providers will always look at ways of selling their latest offering. We often see larger suppliers subsidising services to hide the fact their core offering is overpriced and not fit for purpose. Promising “we have the best solution coming” and then delivering nothing. Remind yourself. They don’t care about you – just the money you spend, and their owners and investors want a return.
An understanding of what you do
IT is IT, right? But you’re mistaken. Understanding the impact of downtime and the knock-on effect it has on any business is critical. We work with organisations across various industries, and it’s gut-wrenching to hear the horror stories.
As an example, a professional service business was experiencing downtime every day. On the dot, at 4 pm, the system ground to a halt and 25 chargeable staff couldn’t work. The MSP’s response was, “we’re trying to fix it, but it’s complicated”, and it’s 4 pm, so you only have an hour left in the day. 3 weeks in and 375 hours of lost chargeable time at a very conservative cost of £22,500. Not only were they losing money, but clients were beginning to question the service they were receiving.
We fixed the issue. A simple setting change in the productive software the business used. Thirty minutes after being asked to work with the client. The problem wasn’t due to the previous supplier being incompetent. Just a lack of industry knowledge and the software used.
So when you are looking at your providers, choose based upon not only cost but expertise too. And remember should be more than just a number to your IT provider.
All in all
As businesses, we make choices based upon various criteria – price, skills, location and people. No matter how you come to your decision, it is essential to make it for the right reason. If the price is the driver, make sure you understand what you are compromising when you take the service.
No matter who you choose, don’t lose focus that you’re important, and your provider should value your business as much as any other. You should be more than just a number to your IT provider.
If your business needs more or feel your provider doesn’t value you, please talk to us. We want to work with businesses passionate about technology and how it can positively impact what they do.