The only thing worse than having your IT people fail to deliver on service to your business is actually changing your IT provider. There is so much that you remember when you tried to find the last one. Comparing pricing, services, doing your reference calling, and everything else – it can be overwhelming.
We’ve been doing IT Services for a few years now and most of our clients had some IT service provider before us. We’re uniquely qualified to speak to the motivation to change, and what that process is.
Far and away the most common reason to change is that the current IT provider is simply not responsive. You call them and leave a message, and it might be a day or a week before you get a call back. IT issues can’t wait that long. How can someone put up with this? They just find a workaround and keep calling in the hopes that the issue gets resolved some day. In the meantime, the business loses productivity and profit. Finally when the IT person calls back, it’s a billable solution and there’s more money lost.
The second most common issue is that the current provider does not have the skills to handle the technology. This is common with an IT person who didn’t attend school, or have a lengthy background in providing support. They can get in over their head. They have a good thing going so they are unlikely to own up to this. Now the customer is in the awkward position of judging skills in an area they themselves know nothing about. A good tip that you might be in this spot is if the work they are doing is taking a long time, and they don’t provide a detailed accounting of what they did.
Changing Your IT Provider
First you have to find someone, and then you have to see if they’re a good fit. The best starting point is using someone you know and trust. People in your business community or chamber of commerce have a vested interest in doing good work. Asking other business owners who they use can actually be a little more hit-and-miss, but if there’s a strong candidate, consider it!
Next, meet with them and ask them for a service quote after they’ve toured your business. It is nigh impossible for an IT tech to get a good idea of where your technology is at without a tour. Even after a tour and you’ve hired them, there’s probably going to be another detailed assessment later. Any information the last IT provider gave you will be helpful.
Which leads to a very important point here. If you are looking for a new IT provider, speak to your current one. If you have irreconcilable differences, then work together to make the transition smooth. The new provider will need a lot of information from the old one. Keeping lines of communication open is critical for the continuing success of your business.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for references. IT providers should have happy clients who are willing to spend a few minutes on the phone to help put your mind at ease.
What to Ask For
The new provider should be able to give you an SLA agreement. This is a Service Level Agreement which states several areas of the agreement between you and the provider and is specific so you know what to expect. This can include working hours, off-hours provisions, response times, resolution times, contact information for escalating an issue, reporting schedule and more.
Also ask for a contract which includes the SLA. The contract protects both of you, helps better cement the relationship, and sets expectations.
Talk About It
Business hire IT providers to take care of things they don’t understand or have time to work on. Maintaining those expectations is important, and sometimes we get busy and forget to talk about issues we’re unsure about. A quick phone call in many cases can easily resolve this and put those doubts to rest. You might not always need to be changing your it provider. You might just need to talk.