One common occurrence we run into with prospects, especially those with some kind of existing IT structure (whether internal or outsourced managed IT services) is an inability to properly determine what should be happening when it comes to IT support. Essentially, this is an issue of evaluating an MSP or internal resource.
What Value Are You Really Getting?
Likely the first metric for IT support many decision makers examine is cost, although the algorithm is a bit more complex than a single line item. Yes, cost is important. But just as important is to consider what a business or organization is getting for the cost. Productivity from its IT is obviously an expected part of the equation. As well, uptime is important. One should expect an IT resource to be proactive in keeping items protected from bad actors and running smoothly. An IT resource should offer consulting with regards to a company or organization’s IT, as well as make the sometimes overly complex IT world a bit smaller and more easily understood. Let’s dig a bit deeper on each of these.
In running a business, cost is clearly an important factor. As mentioned above, though, cost can’t be everything. If one makes toy cars, the least expensive wheels aren’t the answer if they crack when a toddler drops the toy. The least expensive toy wheels that perform to standard are the best bet. Standards are an important piece in any IT evaluation. You may ask questions such as:
How much does it cost the business if the IT goes down/is not functional?
What is an acceptable amount of time for our IT to be down in a given year?
How often do we currently lose productivity due to IT issues?
How is our current IT hardware performing?
If you haven’t yet examined IT standards for your business or aren’t sure how to do so, drop us a line and we can help you get started.
Keeping your devices going when you need them is a key metric in evaluating an MSP or IT personnel. One thing to keep in mind, however, is to use an accurate method to calculate this. It is human nature to remember only the times when things aren’t working. Using a reporting or tracking tool for employees can help determine when their work is hindered by IT issues.
No one can guarantee 100% uptime. If a person or company tells you they can, they are lying. Things break. Unexpected errors occur. The key is getting things back in gear quickly. Again, accurate metrics are important—we tend to remember when the IT was slow (or broken) during those times we needed it to be operating well. The board meeting, presenting on Teams or Zoom, on the phone with an important customer are all unfortunate times for one’s IT to be causing problems, but for this portion of the evaluation it’s important to look at the numbers. (For example: yes, it was a bit embarrassing to be presenting to peers when your internet was having issues, but what we want to examine here is how quickly did your IT person or team rectify the issue? Was it outside their control, such as an internet interruption or outage?)
Proactive vs Reactive
Reduction of downtime can occur in a multitude of ways, but one important aspect is proactively solving future issues. While only a decision maker within the business can give the go-ahead for replacement or integration projects, is your IT resource providing a heads up on aging or faltering equipment? Has your IT person or team provided recommendations for company security policies or defense layers (such as MFA)?
Waiting for things to break, and then fixing them, is a sign of an underdeveloped IT resource. (Please keep an eye on fairness here, too: when evaluating an MSP or IT resource, if the IT team has advised replacement or changes and decision-makers have not acted, the fault may lie with the decision makers, all else being equal. Please read on regarding communication, which can be a key component in this as well.)
Communication / Understanding of how IT helps you
IT can be complex and cumbersome. IT can be annoying. And IT can be expensive. Yet while all of this can be true, IT is also not going away. In fact, it is becoming more a part of our lives every passing minute and will likely never slow down.
These points all make navigation of the IT world admittedly difficult—a tangle of licensing; hardware that must work together like building a lego maze; software that sometimes plays nicely together and, other times, much less so.
Frankly, all the more reason for evaluating an MSP.
A good IT resource will be your trusted advisor on these issues. Whether an employee or an outsourced guide, communication here is key. When evaluating your IT, it is important to consider if your resource is both walking the thin line of keeping you up-to-date and up-to-speed on possibilities and options while avoiding bogging down conversation in technical detail that you may or may not understand and, frankly, may not need to know.
Similarly, transparency is KEY! The ability to deliver bad news, as well as good, is very important for the partnership to work well.
Business IT Consultancy
An extension of communication is having an IT consultant at your side. This role is often a more strategic in nature than “normal” IT communication. For example, rather than a discussion on fixing a hardware issue, common themes in consulting can include budgeting over the next year, five years, or ten years; structuring an on-premise vs cloud approach to servers; or advice regarding IT advancements in the specific field a company deals in. Planning is a hugely important component in most parts of business, and IT is no different in this respect.
Level of Expertise
Perhaps it goes without saying, but your resource should know what is correct and current in the world of IT. Sloppy or ill-informed IT work leads to inefficiencies in all of the above categories. How can one expect to get great advice regarding the next decade of IT if s/he lacks sufficient knowledge and experience? Response time takes longer, as research must be done for problems the IT resource is not ready to handle. It is difficult for the IT personnel to communicate on a topic he or she is ignorant, and poor planning in most cases logically leads to more downtime.
So where does that leave us?
Well, it’s likely time to take a second look at your IT. When evaluating an MSP or IT resource, there’s always going to be room for improvement. Is the IT situation better than it was last year? Do your employees find themselves stymied or frustrated due to IT issues? Do you feel that you are getting proper value from your IT resource? (If you like, check out an examination of in-house vs outsourced IT here.)
At Certified CIO, we strive to exceed expectations in each of the above categories. Our CEO and Helpdesk Manager have hand-selected our technical team for their abilities to solve your problems the right way, the first time. We are very proud of our customer satisfaction rating and positive feedback. We can help your business, too!
If you’re not sure where to start, click the CONTACT US button or pick up the phone and give us a call. We would be happy to discuss your current IT situation and help you get the most “bang for your buck”.