All businesses are becoming more reliant on technology. It’s crucial that you’ve got the right IT service provider to support and develop your systems and processes. You may think, yes, all MSPs (managed service providers) can provide you with an IT service; it’s nothing more than a transaction. You’ve got a fair point, but we describe this as a mediocre service, and it’s not acceptable in this day and age.
Your IT provider must be an extension of your business, working with you to help you reach your business goals, providing strategic guidance, and of course, with excellent service delivery. All of which is built upon a solid foundation of honesty and trust. If this doesn’t sound like your managed service provider, stop and take 5 minutes to read on. And if you find that you can relate to any of the points below, you need to change your provider ASAP.
1. Your IT provider doesn’t really understand your business
Ever get the feeling that your IT provider doesn’t understand your business’s working ways or the standard in the industry? Sound familiar? It means you’re not receiving the best IT service and experience, even though it seems like you are.
It may seem obvious, but it’s always beneficial to work with people who clearly understand the industry you work within. The providers that focus on specific sectors become specialists in that area, rather than a jack of all trades. These providers understand the day-to-day challenges to the business’s strategic long-term development, allowing them to provide services and guidance most suitable to your business, rather than a generic service any provider can deliver.
Let’s take an accountancy practice, for example. The provider must understand and possibly have an excellent working relationship with the accountancy software you use, Sage, IRIS or others. Therefore, issues that arise are dealt with quickly due to prior and detailed knowledge of the software, whereas generic IT providers will need to search for necessary information. Ultimately, this can impact downtime. The more efficient the resolution, the less chargeable time lost, and your clients are happier. As soon as this begins to become inefficient, it snowballs into poor service.
So it’s time to be honest. Does your provider understand your business and industry? No? You must seek to change your IT provider to ensure you receive the best possible IT service and help your business flourish.
2. You receive poor and irregular communication
Take a few minutes to think about the communication between yourselves and your managed service provider. Are they only in touch with you when there is a problem or close to renewal? Maybe you struggle to get advice? If your answer is yes, we’re sorry to say this is a basic transactional relationship with nothing more than essential communication, with no added value.
Good communication is one of the essential components of a quality managed service provider, and it’s the foundation of any working relationship. It’s a two-way street, and you need to play your part as well. Without this, there’ll be significant consequences.
These are the following things you need to expect from your managed service provider:
- Updates on issues raised from the service desk team
- Communication with the management team outside of contract renewals, touching base and offering strategic advice
- Frank and honest conversations between yourselves and the provider
Is communication with your IT provider up to scratch? No? Time to seek another IT provider, who can find the time to check in with you regularly.
3. Your systems don’t perform well when you really need them to
We won’t pretend there’s a perfect IT provider and service out there, with zero issues. Everyone from time to time experiences small or big problems which may affect a single person, several employees or the entire business.
The key here is for your provider to ensure your systems are in the best health, and there’s a resolution for repetitive issues rather than implementing workarounds. It allows your systems to perform as you need them to, especially in peak periods. If you’re reaching peak periods and your system is falling over, it shows your provider clearly isn’t up to scratch, and also they aren’t appreciative or supportive during busy times.
For example, accountancy practices will have just been through their busiest period during December and January as taxes are due. In the accountancy calendar, this is the most stressful time of the year. Imagine, on top of this your systems not performing as they should. Downtime causing you to work all hours to ensure you can file your clients’ tax returns on time. Or even worse they’re down on the 31st of January for a few hours due to capacity problems, and you miss the filing deadline for numerous individuals. The short answer is you’ll have miserable clients who may well look for a new accountant.
If this is a memory you’d rather forget, or you’ve had a similar experience in your business, the time is now to change your IT provider. Otherwise, it’ll just happen again, no matter how many chances you give your provider.
4. You’re experiencing substandard service delivery
As mentioned previously, all IT providers can deliver an IT service to your business that can be transactional. The critical difference between a substandard service and a high-quality service will be the added value extras built into the service as standard, creating a clear and transparent working relationship.
From a high-quality managed service provider, you should expect the following:
- Transparent call logging, ticket creation and reporting
- Detailed documentation of your systems and processes
- Continually improving by investing in employees and the business
- Appropriate staffing level, with a varied skillset (project management, application specialists etc.) to fully support your business
- Ongoing strategic advice and consultancy to support your business goals
- Certified to ISO 9001/27001, Cyber Essentials or ITIL standard
We strongly believe all of the above should be within any service from a managed IT provider. Without these, your business will be subject to slower responses and resolutions on tickets, unclear documentation around service and system processes, the provider’s employee dissatisfaction causing a lax delivery of service, and no ongoing advice. It’ll create an environment pretty quickly for a dishonest, untrustworthy, and unhappy working relationship with your provider, where you feel there’s always a constant battle.
If after reviewing the list you realise your provider only delivers some of these, and worst-case scenario none of the above, you need to change your IT provider as they’re not suitable to support your business now and into the future.
5. The response time for tickets is prolonged
I’m sure we all accept that there’ll be issues with IT from time to time. And as per the usual process you call or email your provider to highlight the issue. The bigger problem is when it seems to take an unreasonable amount of time to receive a response.
For example, looking at accountancy practices again, tax deadline day is pretty hectic. Imagine having to wait hours for a response on an issue that impacts the software used for the tax returns, when you’ve got them piling up across your team—or even worse raising a problem after 7 pm on the 31st of January and no one being around to help. It leads to stress, unhappy clients, missed deadlines, loss of charge time and a breakdown of your relationship with your provider.
You should expect your managed service provider to support you during adhoc peak times, and understand your seasonal peaks. A decent provider will be aware of these times and will be flexible within reason.
Does this resonate with your business? Time is now to change your IT provider before this level of service carries on hindering your business.
What can you do if you want to change your IT provider?
Does any of the above sounds like your business? In that case, you need to change your provider now to start seeing the benefits of a provider who focuses on developing a long-term, transparent, trustworthy and supportive relationship with you and your business. We know it’s all too easy to just live with it, accept that this is just ‘normal’ and this is as ‘good as it gets’. But this is no longer acceptable.
Come and talk to us, you might be surprised at how different it can be. We believe in honest advice, and if we can’t help, we’ll let you know. You can book a meeting online with one of our directors or give us a call on 0345 504 8989.
Need to chat this through?
Book a free, no-obligation 15-minute consultation with Mark Burgess, one of our directors at HW Technology. He can offer guidance and advice based on your current provider and the service they deliver to you.