26 August 2021
My IT Support is OK… But What If I Want More?
As humans, change can be difficult. It is why we stay with a bank that gives us less than ideal rates, or keep stubbing a toe on the same uneven paving slab, without taking action. Change takes effort. Sometimes, though, change is necessary if we are to get the most out of life, and out of business.
When it comes to IT partners, accepting the status quo is common. We often hear the same words: ‘my IT partner is fine, I guess, they’re friendly, the rates are OK, we’ve been doing business for years.’ If that sounds like you, maybe it is time to question whether your IT partner is doing you a favour, or a disservice. Think of it from another perspective – how would you feel if your customers described your service as just OK?
Clearly, IT support is not a on size fits all situation. What suits a home-based start-up won’t have the scope to support a multi-national mega corporation, and those servicing the top end of town are likely to be beyond the means of the corner store owner. On the same basis, if your business has come a long way, the comfortable fit you enjoyed a few years ago may now feel like a compression suit. Typically, the best match will have an equal level of maturity to your own business. If you’re no longer working from your shed, you may have outgrown a partner who still is.
It isn’t just your business that will have changed. Not only have new technologies emerged, but the role that IT plays in businesses is drastically different than it was just five years ago. There is a far stronger relationship between IT and business success than ever. A business without an IT strategy is like a boat without a rudder, so if your IT partner is not working with you on a comprehensive IT strategy, why not?
The Right Conversations
Realistically, it is a very long time since a reactive attitude was sufficient in business IT. Instead, the discussion should have long since moved on to asking what can be improved, what opportunities exist, and how can technology align better with business direction? Think about whether new ideas are shared with you regularly, whether you are getting added value beyond paying cloud subscriptions, and whether you are surging ahead of competitors and friends in business, or whether chats at the weekend barbecue leave you feeling left behind.
Whether we are working with long-time customers or newcomers, an IT review provides the basis for discussions and planning. One of the important elements is making sure that users’ voices are heard, as this can be a tremendous source of often overlooked insight. What started out as user frustrations or limitations have often prompted remarkable improvements and fresh ideas.
The conversations can also bring to light unnoticed risks, such as cloud data without appropriate backups, or processes that leave loopholes for hackers. A few minutes chatting with your IT partner should leave you feeling more in control, and give you actionable new knowledge.
Nobody has unlimited IT budget, so it can be tempting to cut a few corners to save a few dollars, or to put off upgrades for as long as possible. Ultimately, this can end up costing you more. False economies are especially felt by staff when their workday is more frustrating, and their productivity can drop when they are endlessly working around problems. They are likely the most expensive resource in your business, and when they spend their days doing tasks that could be automated, instead of activities that require a human touch, it is money down the drain. There have been times when a few tweaks in Microsoft 365 have saved hours daily for an employee, and saved the business from higher staff turnover.
Local Skills, Global Support
Australia is a country like no other. We face different challenges, we have unique passions. For this reason, it is hard for overseas IT support services to truly get your environment. That said, sometimes global expertise can be very useful. For most businesses, the best of both worlds exists in local, accredited partners that have strong connections with key international vendors. This gives you access to a world of expertise, while having the right team on your doorstep in a crisis.
As much as location, and checking technical certification, sharing core values is a must. When choosing an IT partner, do some research into what the company aspires to – most will have a values statement on their website. If possible, visit their offices and see their environment. Check references. Sometimes, it takes working together to confirm a good match, so be wary of locked in contracts. If they’re the right fit, you will want to stay with a partner, and if they are not, they shouldn’t want you to be stuck with them.