Picture this: you’ve been stuck in IT limbo for years. Relying on friends to get new technology up and running. Tasking a key employee with maintaining systems (in addition to fulfilling their other responsibilities). Perhaps every once in a while you even bring in an IT professional to diagnose problems and resolve major issues.
But here’s the rub: that IT provider is often busy with other accounts and not always able to immediately react to your request for service. If a computer crashes, or data becomes inaccessible, you and your employees can be left in the dark the cost of downtime adds up and decreased productivity puts a hurting on your bottom line.
Consider this scenario: say you run a small business with 20 employees that have an average salary of $50,000, an average yearly workload of 2,000 hours, and an average hourly rate of $25. Maybe your systems are down for four hours, during which nobody can use email, open applications, or access data files while you wait for an IT professional to come fix the problem. Assuming that productivity is cut in half, if you multiply two hours of downtime at $25 an hour by 20 employees, you just paid your employees $1,000 for time they were unable to perform their job duties. Add in the cost of that IT professional (once he or she finally shows up), along with the lost revenue opportunity from squandered billable hours, and your business is truly suffering.
So now you realize that it’s time to find someone new — an IT professional who can give your business the attention it deserves. But how do you protect your employees from the confusion of bringing in a new third party? Can you ensure that any changes will go smoothly? How do you know if the new provider will keep your systems running and your employees productive while the transition is underway?
This is when the doubt creeps in: maybe it’s better to stick with the lackluster provider you’re familiar with than risk everything on a new company. But here’s the catch: in the long run, proactive IT services cost far less than reactive or break/fix services. That’s what CMIT Solutions specializes in. But we know that switching partners can be stressful. You don’t just up and change your lawyer or your accountant — your IT service provider should engender the same level of trust.
So how can you be sure that your IT needs are met? Here are 5 important questions to ask of any existing or potential provider:
1) Do you provide 24/7 system monitoring and maintenance? Proactive, preventative maintenance and 24/7 monitoring are crucial to IT success. If your IT provider doesn’t do this, proceed with caution. At CMIT Solutions, we have a Network Operations Center that utilizes the expertise of over 700 knowledgeable technicians — which means if you’ve got an emergency, an easily accessible Help Desk should be available to solve any problem in a timely manner.
2) What high-risk projects need to be dealt with now? If your tape backup drive has been working for years but only backing up local directories, not all data, this critical need should be addressed first to ensure business continuity and stability of all systems.
3) Can you recommend services that fit my budget and my needs? Proactive IT services provide better long-term value than reactive or break/fix services. But that doesn’t mean your budgetary constraints aren’t real. First and foremost, your IT provider should understand that — and be able to identify an appropriate course of action that works within your budget and doesn’t bust it.
4) What kind of long-term hardware, software, and support upgrade plan would you recommend? No IT provider should ever try to sell you services that you don’t need. They should, however, work with you to identify areas where technological upgrades can make your business run more efficiently. Whether it’s new machines, new programs, or new ways to maximize IT output via the cloud, mobility, and industry compliance, make sure you get the support you need.
5) Listen, listen, listen. This flows from each of the previous four points. An IT provider should serve as a trusted advisor that understands your overall business goals, hears out your concerns, asks questions about your technology needs, and focuses on ways to improve your productivity and profitability. Once you decide to upgrade your current IT situation, your new provider should also work closely with your old provider to collect all necessary information and make the transition as smooth as possible.
Most of all, a new IT partner should work to solve your problems, serve your needs, and make you feel at ease. As many CMIT business owners testify, the most rewarding part of bringing on a new client is when they reveal that the transition was so easy they wish they’d done it sooner.
Ready to make a change and add value to your business? Contact CMIT Solutions today for more info. We make technology work for you, not against you.