When it comes to IT, most businesses these days outsource at least some of their needs. After all, it’s more cost-effective to hire experts in specific areas than to try to keep everything in-house. However, there’s always a risk that things won’t go as planned when you outsource IT Support. Here are a few tips based on my experience to help ensure that your outsourced IT support is a success:
1. Define Your Goals
Before you even start looking for an IT provider, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. What specific tasks or projects do you need help with? What are your long-term goals for your business? Perhaps you want an IT partner that will be with you as you grow or maybe you need a cyber security focused IT company because you have intellectual property that needs protecting with additional security. Once you know what you need, you can start looking for a provider that specialises in those areas. Share these goals with your team as this will ensure expectations are met.
2. Do Your Research
Not all IT providers are created equal. It’s important to do your research and find a company that you can trust. Read online reviews, talk to other businesses in your industry, and get recommendations from people you know. When speaking with an IT support company, don’t be afraid to ask them if you can speak with some of their customers directly, preferably from your sector.
3. Have a Plan
Once you’ve found a provider, it’s important to have a plan in place. What exactly will they be responsible for? What are your expectations? What’s the budget? By having a clear plan from the start, you can avoid any misunderstandings down the road.
4. Stay Involved
This is perhaps the biggest reason for an IT relationship to fail. Just because you’ve outsourced IT doesn’t mean you can forget about it entirely. It’s important to stay involved and stay up-to-date on what’s going on. This way, you can catch any problems early and ensure that things are going as planned.
Always appoint someone to own the IT relationship at your business. This doesn’t have to be a technical person (in fact, it’s probably better if it isn’t), instead it needs to be someone who wants the relationship to succeed; typically we see this as an office or operations manager.
Try not to keep changing the appointed IT contact. Long term relationships are built on trust, so constantly changing this person can make it difficult for the relationship to flourish. The same applies with the IT company; if they keep changing your account manager, you’ll start to feel they aren’t taking your account seriously or it could hint at internal problems. If this happens, make sure to ask them why and give them the opportunity to fix the issue.
Have regular meetings. Just as you might have one to ones with your staff, it’s important to have regular meetings with the company you have appointed to manage your IT function. Your IT support account manager should share service delivery KPIs and customer satisfaction survey results. Take the time to understand the reports so you are aware of any red flags. A good IT support company will face problems head on; they will be honest when things aren’t going great and will do their best to rectify the situation. Covering up mistakes will always lead to distrust and spoil the relationship.
Lastly, only ever appoint one person at your business to be the IT contact. As the saying goes, if more than one person is accountable, no-one is accountable as each person will assume the other person is taking responsibility but in fact, no-one is. I’ve seen this happen several times; the problem will always persist until you appoint a single person to be accountable.
5. Be Prepared to Switch
If things aren’t going well with your current IT provider and you’ve done everything you can to make the relationship work, then don’t be afraid to switch to someone new. It’s better to make a change early on than to wait until it’s too late. Switching may seem like a huge undertaking, but a good IT support provider will have a process to ensure a seamless transition – ask to see this process before you make a final decision.
By following these tips, you can help ensure that your outsourced IT relationship is a success.