As of this writing, Mr. and Mrs. Karam Chand from Bradford, England have been married for
89 years (The Yorkshire Post). They tied the knot December 11, 1925 and never looked back – except to say that enjoying life, wanting to do good for the other person, and eating veggies all contributed to an 89-year marriage. Now, what does that have to do with a long, happy life with your IT services provider? Except for the veggies, just about everything.
Like any great relationship, outsourcing technology requires trust. For small businesses, this means choosing an IT services provider who has your back 24/7. Not only that, it means working with people who understand technology’s critical role in every facet of your business so your company will thrive. And it all starts with the relationship between you and your IT team. Here are 10 ways to make it a great experience long after the honeymoon is over. Number 7 is our favorite! …
1. Establish Trust. Trust oftentimes begins by sharing the same priorities. Align your core values with your IT services provider. For example, two of 3Points’ core values include “Do the right thing” and “Be client centric.” Many of our own clients honor these beliefs, laying a strong foundation of respect and appreciation.
2. Champion a Partner Who Admits Mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. When a mistake happens, seek out a resolution and move on. At 3Points, when we make a mistake, we make it right. Case in point: we had been billing a client for web-filtering while unaware the service had been disconnected. We discovered the mistake, informed the client and credited them for the months they were billed for the device.
3. Communicate Often. Outsourcing your IT is a two-way street. We as a provider have to be strong communicators and really listen to exactly what a client wants and needs, then execute on that and provide results. In turn, clients should ask questions and bring up “what if” scenarios. If there are challenges, a provider should address and resolve them quickly.
4. Explore Cloud Computing with Your Provider. Cloud computing brings enterprise level computing to small business IT. Consider how the cloud can fuel your business, and ask your provider for examples of cloud applications in your vertical market. At 3Points, we provide cloud options that alleviate the growing cost of IT, specifically with hardware.
5. Embrace the Virtual CIO. A great IT solutions partner understands every facet of a client network and business. At 3Points, our technicians consistently review issue lists and network metrics – this homework helps us hit the ground running prior to an onsite visit. It is an honor to act as a virtual CIO to small businesses. That job title means a solution provider understands clients’ data, and is fully knowledgeable about their network architecture and business goals.
6. Discuss Onsite Versus Remote Support. Talk with your IT provider about onsite and remote options. Communication is key. At 3Points, clients may choose technical support based on how they define emergencies, how often they require onsite help, and the amount of IT support they require.
7. Include Your IT Provider in Your Yearly Strategic Planning Process. As you grow, the demands on your business grow. As you update your goals and vision, keep your provider in the loop. Annual audits are one of our favorite things to do at 3Points because it puts us right where we belong – in the trenches of a client’s business, working hard to reach their business goals via technology.
8. Discuss Testing Best Practices. Trust, highlighted earlier in this article, is predicated on promises kept. Ask your IT service provider to give you testing results from new technology. At 3Points, we have the Tech Team, a dedicated group that tests new equipment. They are able to provide a lot of experience on upcoming technologies, whether it be for software or hardware.
9. Collaborate with Your Provider on a Security Game Plan. Work with your IT service provider to establish a solid security protocol. Embrace strong password policies and implement an “Acceptable Use Policy.”
10. Be Confident About Your IT Strategy. At the end of the day, you should feel like you are working with the smartest, strongest IT partner on the planet. One, you’ll sleep better at night. And, two, you’ll know that nothing is ever so bad that it will take your business down. A common checklist of IT must-haves includes: firewalls, anti-virus software, web content filtering, upgraded software due to end-of-life, support contract maintenance for business software, PC upgrade plan, server/hardware warranties, and top performance Internet connectivity.