If you’re a small business owner, then there are many advantages to working with a local Managed IT Service provider. But how do you choose the right provider for you?
Trying to optimise the technology you use in your business can be costly and time-consuming. It’s an ongoing battle that can distract you from delighting your customers and leading your team.
That’s why Managed IT Service providers exist!
They enable you to outsource hardware and computing-related services, such as managed IT security and cloud computing. They also help you run your business with a strong IT infrastructure so that you can focus on what you do best.
But there are so many Managed IT Service providers to choose from and what they offer can be quite varied. The wrong choice could lead to irrelevant and expensive services, recurring technology issues, and a lot of frustration.
So, it makes sense to reduce the risk of making the wrong choice, that’s why we’re sharing the nine common mistakes that you should try to avoid.
The Nine Mistakes
Mistake #1 - Insisting on The Newest Technology
Many adverts can trick you into believing that the latest technology will resolve all your issues. While the newest hardware or cloud offerings can often provide a boost, they might not suit your small business.
So, you mustn’t be dazzled by the hype surrounding new products and services. Your provider shouldn’t confuse you with state-of-the-art features – they should guide you to get the best return for your investment and support a seamless transition.
Mistake #2 - Failure to Consider Response Times
Having instant access to a highly trained IT specialist 24/7, 365 days of the year may sound ideal, but it will come at a significant premium. Is it really what your small business needs?
Are your IT systems mission-critical? Do you run a night shift or simply work 9-5? What then is a sensible window for the response and subsequent resolution of any IT issues?
You will, of course, want to be able to raise issues around the clock by email or phone, but what should be the response time and the completeness of that first response?
And remember, it’s not all about being reactive. Constant monitoring can help ensure you can prevent certain IT issues or detect them early. With this, the provider can immediately administer patches and updates to safeguard against disasters.
Reflect on your circumstances and then see what options are offered by your local Managed IT Services provider.
Mistake #3 - Neglecting the Security Aspect
Disregarding the security features of your IT provider might be the most severe mistake. Providers with improper defence mechanisms can’t shield your system from cyber attackers, increasing the risk of losing data and access to resources.
To avoid this, look for Managed IT providers that can protect you from malware and other threats. They also need to prioritize protecting your business’s confidential data, including employee and customer information.
When it comes to specific security measures, your IT provider should help you prevent data intrusions – but in a way that is appropriate for your specific operations and risks.
Mistake #4 - Misjudging the Budget
Managed IT Service providers operate different pricing schemes, ranging from ‘Pay as You Go’ to ‘Fixed Price, all you can eat’.
Although ‘Pay as you Go’ may seem a cost-effective plan, you could end up with one of 2 scenarios:
For some, the costs are much higher than they anticipated as they require more help than they allowed for. For others, the owner and their staff are so aware of the mounting costs that they hold back from requesting support and suffer ongoing issues with their technology.
Research your providers thoroughly and draft your budget with professional assistance. These steps can prevent considerable frustration down the line.
Mistake #5 – Speed Reading the Contract
You might find this surprising, but we have met a considerable number of North West business owners that aren’t happy with their support provider but have inadvertently signed a contract for 3 or even 5 years.
Others have signed rollover contracts that automatically renew. This is a relatively common practice and can be the curse of many a small business owner who intends to switch to another provider only to find out too late that the contract has already been renewed.
Lastly, be wary of the ‘urgency’ tactic. There is rarely a good reason why a contract must be signed by a certain time on a specific day – apart from helping the salesman achieve his target.
Think twice before signing on the dotted line.
Mistake #6 – Not Having a Clear Service Level Agreement
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) hold IT providers accountable for their services. It establishes standards for responsibilities, quality, scope, and delivery time in writing.
Without it, you’ll have no way of ensuring transparent collaboration.
Mistake #7 – Expecting Too Much of Your Provider
Small business owners often expect their Managed IT Service provider to be able to offer a cure for every technology hiccup that occurs.
Technology is such a broad and rapidly developing area that you will still need access to specialists for any industry-specific software or hardware that your organisation uses.
Think of it like your local trusted garage. The mechanic will service, repair and MOT your car regularly but may recommend a specialist for a specific model-related issue.
In the same way, a good Managed IT Service provider will not claim to have the answer to everything but will instead help you source and access any specialist support that you may require.
Mistake #8 – Expecting Too Much of Your Team
The story doesn’t end once you’ve found and partnered with a trustworthy IT provider. New technologies won’t magically increase your bottom line and decrease outputs.
To accomplish your goal, your employees will still need to understand how to use your new tech solutions. But bear in mind that not every team member may be able to grasp new tools easily. Some may even prefer the existing platforms.
Fortunately, you can hire IT experts to train them. These professionals should simplify any complex steps and advise your staff on making the most of your new investment.
Also, remember to assess their response to new technologies. Conduct questionnaires and other forms of feedback collection to determine and address any weaknesses or gaps in understanding.
Mistake #9 - Ignoring the Experiences of Other Clients
Choosing an IT provider is like buying standard products and services. Failure to check user reviews can lead to disappointment.
To get a clear picture of your prospective Managed IT Provider’s capabilities, analyse their current and previous clients. Look for reviews, testimonials, and ask the provider for a list of references and follow up with those who are of a similar size and shape to your own business.
Investing your time in some up-front research will maximise your chances of finding the ideal match for your company.
Finding The Right Fit
Nobody wants to end up with a poorly matched Managed IT Service provider that can’t deliver great results. We hope that we can help you prevent this by sharing these common mistakes.
Our Managed IT Service is designed specifically to meet the needs of small businesses in the North West, allowing them to focus on what they do best.
If that’s not you then no problem, we hope this article has helped and good luck in your search for your best fit provider.
If you do run a small business in the North West of England and want to find out more then please get in touch.