No one likes to hear excuses when it comes to failure to meet expectations. The reality is that there If you’ve been burned by the excuses of an IT provider, it might have left you wondering if your expectations were realistic or not. Every time we go to do a prospect assessment or new customer onboarding, we’re continually surprised by what IT providers are allowed to get away with. Messy server rooms, re-sold aging and out-of-warranty equipment, consumer-quality workstations, or support that just doesn’t get the job done are just a few of the things we see on a literal daily basis. So, what is it that you should expect from your IT provider and how can you assess whether or not they’re delivering on this? Here’s a (very) short list of some of the basics that will help you identify if your provider is serving your most basic IT needs:

  1. Responsive support.
    This is probably the most basic and high urgency need that any business has, yet somehow users continue to wait for hours just for a response from their IT provider. How responsive is responsive? The top tier providers are going to have response times in the top 5%, sitting somewhere around 15 minutes (or even better). Under an hour is the standard for true MSPs, but others masquerading as MSPs can have a response time as long as 4 hours. This is why it’s really important to have a clear understanding of what tools your MSP is using and where their business stands from an average response time perspective. Top-tier industry leaders are more than happy to share that statistic with you, while others may be less willing to guarantee or even just state their average response time.
  2. Strategic business technology insight.
    Increasingly, IT providers are discussing a more strategic approach to technology. This means that you include your Managed Services or technology provider in every single conversation that you have regarding technology planning as it relates to your business processes and growth. Rather than just relying on our technology provider for support and projects, they can help you make the best business technology decisions to improve your processes, get data analytics and increase productivity in your users as well as your bottom line. There’s a lot to be said for aligning your business strategy and your technology. Plus you don’t have to do it by yourself.
  3. Budget planning.
    You know what executives love? Massive capital expenditures for new server equipment that broke and they didn’t budget for. Just kidding. No one loves that. But what’s nice about really high-quality IT providers is that they integrate all of your strategy into a budget plan with you so that you can predictably replace your technology, it’s always in warranty and you’re rarely left with unforeseen technology expenses. Predictable expenses are a growing business’ best friend, and a great MSP can help you get there.
  4. Uptime.
    Everyone hates downtime. Employees get behind and have catchup and managers and executives are upset because of lost revenue. Not to mention your ability to serve your customer or client is diminished, so you’re at risk for upsetting them as well. What’s really nice about truly proactive MSPs is that they brag 99% uptime since they have so many proactive management tools in place monitoring the state of your network and connections. It’s not unheard of to expect super high uptime rates from your service provider at all. In fact, we say it should be the norm.
  5. Backup.
    Comprehensive backup. You need your files and your provider should not only be backing up those files, but also testing those backups. If your budget allows, they should also be having a conversation with you about cloud hosting and business continuity. Being up the majority of the time is huge, but things happen. Whether that’s a cryptolocker ransomware infection, a fire or flood, you need to have a really good understanding of how much money you’re losing if a true disaster strikes and what your recovery objectives are. We did a blog on Recovery Point Objectives and Recovery Time Objectives that you’ll really want to read. No matter how comprehensive your strategy for getting back up and running is, it’s a conversation that should be had with your IT provider and something they should be approaching you about. If they’re not, you should seriously consider making a switch.

If you’re starting to think your expectations are too high, it might be time to assess how other technology partners can serve you. As technology evolves and businesses look to serve their customers even more efficiently, there are a few conversations that needs to happen with your provider. If the quality or responsiveness of support, strategic insight, budget planning, uptime or backup situation is up in the air – have the hard conversation or start vetting new companies to help your reach your technology goals. It doesn’t have to be a battle. Find the right technology partner that can help you innovate as a business.