Hostage situations can be pretty hostile and while you may think this type of scene is something that only happens in the movies, facts are facts. More often than we’d like to see, we encounter companies whose IT companies are holding their information and technology hostage. You may be thinking, “Not MY IT provider. They would never do that.” But the truth is, you’d be surprised at how often we encounter providers that are holding companies hostage. If you think that your IT provider may be situating themselves to hold you or your technology hostage, here are a few warning signs and helpful tips that might help you avoid a really hostile situation:

  1. They’re the only one that knows your access credentials.
    As a business owner, you should be intimately aware of the state of your network and have all the access credentials for your domain registrar, website hosting account, firewall, server and e-mail access. While your IT provider may administer these accounts, they should always provide you with a list of credentials should you ever need to access these functions yourself or bring in an external provider to access your network. You pay a lot of money for your server, e-mail and other services and you should never feel bad asking for the credentials to any of these items.
  1. They’re keeping you in the dark about project details.
    You have the right to know how every dollar you’re investing is being spent. This includes any purchases and projects. All of your projects should be carefully laid out in a proposal format that clearly breaks down all costs in a way that you can understand. If a provider is presenting you with a project proposal that is unclear or lacks important details about the state of the equipment being purchased – this is a red flag. You should always know exactly what you’re investing in and where that investment is going to have a full understanding of the state of your IT.
  1. They’re not cooperative with vendors and tend to finger-point.
    An IT provider should enthusiastically work with any vendor you bring in for a project or any software program that you use. If you’re encountering finger-pointing and hostility every time you introduce a vendor that to work on something technology-focused, this could be an indicator that you’re dealing with an egotistical provider that is easily threatened.
  1. They’re emotional when you discuss any issues that occur.
    While being held hostage is never the fault of the business owner, you always want to make sure to clearly communicate your intentions when it comes to your IT provider. Any time you experience an issue, you should be able to be open and honest. If you have a contract that is coming up for renewal, let them know what your plans are and gauge their reaction. If they appear to get overly emotional about you searching for other providers, this is a red flag that they could attempt to hold you hostage by withholding information.

If you’re starting to question your relationship with your IT provider, the answer is as simple as asking for access credentials. If you request your access credentials and are met with pushback or your provider isn’t responsive – make sure that you begin looking for alternatives and take the appropriate action to secure your credentials. If the provider is honest, they’ll be more than happy to give you any and all access that you require. Don’t put your business into a situation where it is being held hostage by a less-than-reputable provider.