What is your IT support provider costing you?
“Around half of all enterprises (49%) in the UK have outsourced some part of technology to an IT support provider. Also, outsourcing is more common among small and medium businesses than others” – Cyber Security Breach Survey 2019
Almost half of SMEs struggle to find IT staff with the necessary level of skills and experience, which is just one of many reasons why many SMEs look to outsource their IT operations. Outsourcing IT can either be merely offloading support and maintenance or outsourcing an entire IT department. More often than not, small companies find it difficult to justify the cost of more than one full-time IT support person but working with an IT provider can mean having access to a full team of experienced consultants.
However, not all IT support providers offer the same quality of support and services. Outsourcing should not be viewed as a simple cost-saving exercise. An unsuccessful IT support provider can cost more than you can imagine. The cost can be in terms of money, operational downtime, company reputation, losing your competitive edge and loss in staff time. So, it boils down to one question: what does your IT support provider cost you?
Consider these five factors to determine whether your IT support provider is costing you money
The most important factor to consider is recurring faults. If your IT support provider does not solve the root cause of the problem, then the same issues are going to crop back up. Problems like this indicate your IT support provider does not track issues correctly or are just patching things up when they go wrong.
Quality IT support providers prevent issues from recurring by identifying the root cause of a fault. They continually monitor systems and take pre-emptive measures to stop problems before they stop your business. They will also likely have a suite of value-adding Managed IT services to help reduce and mitigate various unpleasant possibilities such as unacceptably long periods of downtime, cyber-attacks and lack of system resources or resiliency to handle peak demand.
Delay in adoption of the latest technology
SMEs need to aggressively adopt technology to stay competitive. If your IT support provider is unable to keep pace with your technology needs, then this should be taken as a negative sign that this partnership is no longer fulfilling its purpose. In a rapidly changing technology landscape, IT support providers should encourage their clients to remain agile, control costs, quickly respond to competitive opportunities and align IT with ever-evolving business objectives.
Reputed IT support providers use the latest technologies and equipment to deliver services which are updated regularly with no additional cost to the business and thus eliminating the risk of an obsolete IT infrastructure.
Slow response time
At any moment SMEs can be struck by show-stopping issues such as internet outages, server crashes and cyber-attacks. When a problem arises, your IT support provider should get on it immediately. If there is a lag in response time, then your business could come to a grinding halt.
There are many reasons for this. Maybe your IT provider has not invested in the technology necessary to continuously monitor and track your IT systems, are short on skilled resources, overstretched with their commitments or even this is the level of service you have agreed to. If this is an ongoing issue though, then it’s time to act.
If your IT support provider is not completely clear about the support services which they provide, then you should consider changing. You outsource IT services for several reasons including fixing costs, or at the very least to have a handle on them. Yet, far too many businesses are being hit with unexpected invoices due to their provider’s lack of transparency or poor communication on a non-technical level. This often erodes that all-important trust and damages the working relationship.
Reputed IT support providers will communicate regularly and in non-technical language - often through an account manager. They should report not just on how healthy your IT systems are but on your levels of usage, customer satisfaction, industry trends, and any areas of concern. Your IT partner is just that – your partner in technology, and you rely on them to look out for you, present opportunities, and plan for the future.
Lack of strategic planning for the future
In the past, a reactive approach would have done the job. But with the increasing complexities and security vulnerabilities of the modern enterprise, a proactive approach is a must-have. A reactive IT support provider lacks the foresight to plan ahead and may be driving you head-first into entirely preventable issues. Whilst your provider may be an expert in solving problems, somebody must plot the course and steer the ship. Otherwise, things are going to go off-course!
An engaged and proactive IT support provider will regularly analyse your business requirements and work with you to maintain alignment between IT systems and business objectives, which they may formalise by way of a strategic road map.
Four elements your IT support provider should support you with in the long run
1.Reduce downtime: Your IT support provider should reduce operational downtime. UK SMEs experience 45 minutes of downtime each week, which is approximately £500 per employee, per year, in lost productivity.
2. Improve security: According to Cyber Security Breach Survey 2019, the average annual cost of a cyber-attack on businesses in the UK is £4,180. Your IT support provider should be able to reduce the risk of a cyber-attack and improve the overall security of your enterprise.
3. Company reputation: 60% of UK consumers would be willing to stop doing business with a breached enterprise. The provider should be able to protect your enterprise from data breaches.
4. Business efficiency and competitiveness: Without a coherent and consistent plan, a significant amount of time, money and resources are spent on patching IT infrastructure and security issues as and when they arise. There is an inevitable loss in staff time during the restoration of services, particularly for IT staff.
Any IT support provider can fix issues, but a quality provider brings much more to the table. They shouldn’t just add value; instead, they should be invaluable. They should be working hard behind the scenes to prevent problems from ever arising. Also, your provider should communicate clearly and regularly, steer the business clear from disasters and develop strategic IT roadmaps to enable the company to leverage technology to achieve maximum business benefits. It’s true that so many SMEs see IT as a cost centre, but the truth is that IT can and should be the driving force behind your enterprise’s profit centre.