London offers an abundance of choice when it comes to IT service providers, but how do you separate the good from the bad, and avoid the downright useless? You ask the right questions and understand the watch outs.
If you have an IT partner already, it makes good business sense to revisit the client-provider relationship and carry out regular reviews, so you can take stock of how things are going, and think about whether you’re getting value for money.
Understanding the pitfalls and knowing how to sidestep them can help you appreciate a good provider, or raise alarm bells, empowering you to make changes if things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped, or if you just want to find a better option.
Classic IT support risks and how to avoid them
Risk: Lack of industry knowledge
How to avoid it: Knowing what good looks like, who you want to compete with, and where you expect to rank within your competitive set, is vital.
For some industries, that requires specialist knowledge or IT skills that go beyond everyday functionality and service maintenance.
For example, if you work in an industry such as software development, where innovation, speed and time to market are crucial, you should test your provider against specific business needs, and make sure they are expert in the ways that are most important to you.
Risk: ‘A ‘one size fits all’ service is enough
How to Avoid It: A broad-brush approach to business IT isn’t just unhelpful, it will result in mediocre service, will limit your ability to compete, and almost certainly rule out any chance of becoming a challenger brand.
To keep providers on their toes, we suggest agreeing goals and setting milestones, so you can see exactly what your IT strategy has delivered for the business in 30 days, three months, six months, one year, and so on, and how well they adhere to your IT roadmap.
How to Avoid It: Without setting a clear payment structure up-front, businesses run the risk of overpaying and exhausting their annual IT budget before they’ve made a dent in their plans.
Understanding how you pay for support is essential. It might be a people-based rate, meaning you’re charged a flat fee each month to have x number of technicians, a dedicated amount of support time allocated to your business that’s charged for whether you use it or not, or an on-demand rate.
The point is, you have to understand it to plan for it.
Risk: Failing to set service level agreements
How to Avoid It: Business needs change over time and so can an IT provider’s capacity, so it’s important to agree the level of service you can expect, so everyone is on the same page from the start.
Risk: Not running a single point of contact service model
How to Avoid It: This allows IT issues to be centralised, and increases efficiency and control.
With single point of contact businesses can ensure ownership, improve continuity and reduce costs, making it a no-brainer for businesses with higher IT dependencies.
Risk: Not including data analysis
How to Avoid It: Good data and the lessons it can teach a business are invaluable, so it makes sense to:
- Agree its importance up front
- Work out what level of analysis you need
- Agree how information will be shared
- Decide how often reports or dashboards will be generated
- Keep the GDPR regulations front of mind (if they impact your business)
Knowing what’s possible and whether it comes at additional cost before you sign on the dotted line, is key.
Risk: Not understanding the true cost of your IT support
How to Avoid It: Understanding the cost and benefits of the IT strategy you employ is essential.
For example, knowing what it takes to equip a full-time, office-based employee versus a remote working employee with their own device, could change the way you staff up.
Similarly, a cost-benefit analysis of using a London-based consultancy over a partner on the other side of the world, for helpdesk services or machine management, could change your thinking entirely.
When you understand how to get the best service and return on your IT investment, you can make more informed decisions, plan better and deliver more.
None of these risks should raise an eyebrow for a good IT provider, so if you’re talking to a consultant or agency who doesn’t see the benefit of boxing these things off up-front, that might raise a red flag. The best IT partners will always have your best interests at heart, and want to work with you to achieve more.
At pebble.it, we have the expertise to look after your IT infrastructure, devices, data and people, around the clock, so you can focus on doing what you do best: running your business.
Discover how we can help your business by downloading our eBook on The Role of IT In Your Growing Agency: