When you know it is time to change IT providers

How do you know when it is time to change IT providers? Do you wait until some unforeseen disaster? Until you find out all their best techs have left? Until your competitors are moving past you due to higher levels of tech-enabled productivity?

Changing IT providers is right up there with finding a new accounting or legal group to work with. Unless there are some serious problems, the status quo holds. Fortunately, technology is STANDARDS based, and any experienced IT provider can come in and get up to speed quickly.

Here are three flags that should trigger that search for a new IT provider:

The frequency of downtime is increasing or is unexplained

Downtime is going to happen at some point. The metrics to watch are the FREQUENCY and DURATION of downtime. If either of these starts increasing, watch out! The root cause is usually a lack of standards and a Technology Roadmap.

As your IT provider scales, the lack of standardization across their customer base becomes impossible to manage. Each customer ends up being a world unto itself, and there are no economies of scale or root cause patterns to follow. The provider enters the reactive death spiral and takes your business with it. No fun. Once the default mode is firefighting, it is difficult to gain the time to properly plan and execute a Technology Roadmap to keep this from happening.

You have a “person,” not a process

We all have the go-to person we enjoy working with in various relationships, which is great! The issue is when that person is not working off a repeatable process. Most IT providers start with a few “smart folks” working on IT issues and grow without putting in the back-end workflows and processes to ensure a consistent and repeatable experience. This comes up in a BIG way when your person suddenly doesn’t work at your IT provider anymore!

The #1 sign you have a person is that they physically show up at some predetermined time on site to handle your needs. This is simply paying for IT support time and will not provide any lasting value to your business.

They are not telling you what to do

Your IT provider should be providing guidance and advice on a regular, PROACTIVE basis. If all the recommendations are in the aftermath of a breach, data loss event, or outage, it is time to start interviewing new providers!

The same goes if YOU tell the provider what you want them to do. It sounds strange, but if you are giving the technology advice, I’m not sure why you need an IT provider!