Just like any industry, the IT support industry is made up of a large pool of businesses and naturally these will vary in size and scope. You’ll find “one-man bands” with a small collection of clients servicing a town or city right through to multi-national monsters that support some of the biggest businesses in New Zealand and everything in between.
This is a good thing for IT customers. Having choice lets you align yourself with an IT support partner that you feel gets you the best results. Unfortunately, the downside of this variety is that there is no consistent standard of service being delivered; what you receive from one provider might differ greatly to another, and with the lack of any formal guidance within the industry, this can lead to problems.
So, what should you expect from your IT company?
This is a difficult question to answer, as there is no single “correct” version of what services should be supplied. However, I believe there should be some baseline of services and support that most businesses in New Zealand should be entitled to expect from an IT supplier.
So, in no particular order, here are our thoughts on where the baseline should sit.
1. Security focused
Your IT provider should make decisions and deliver all services in a security conscious manner. The threat landscape in 2022 is vast and a difficult space to navigate for your average business. This is where your IT company can either help you greatly or ‘drop you in it’.
A good provider should be continuously learning, keeping pace with the current threats and translate these into processes and products that protect their clients.
Added to this, reviews should be undertaken, at least annually, to assess a client’s security position. What was fit for purpose 12 months ago may be risky today.
At OneCall, we developed a Security Review process last year that we have been rolling out to our customers. The goal here is to not let anyone fall behind and as a result, have their business or their customers be at risk.
Having an IT company support your business is a “high trust” model. Typically, the small to medium sized businesses that make up the bulk of companies in New Zealand do not have a high understanding of their IT systems, and this can lead to issues.
An IT company has the potential to underdeliver and overcharge, and the client may be completely unaware that this is happening. Don’t get me wrong, the industry has many high-quality suppliers who would never do this but unfortunately, we do come across instances of business owners being taken for a ride.
So, what can you do to satisfy yourself that your chosen IT company is on the level?
1. Ask questions. Business decision makers should understand what they are consuming from their IT company and why. Equally your IT provider should field any questions with a constructive and positive mindset, doing everything they can to educate you on your systems.
2. Bad things happen – and this is OK. IT is complex and sometimes things don’t work as expected, now couple this with the fact people are involved, and after all we are only human so mistakes can be made. When these inevitable issues arise, your IT company has two choices, firstly they can take ownership of the problem and correct it without delay, or secondly, they can blame something or someone else.
3. If it doesn’t smell right, it probably isn’t. We’ve seen lots of customers suspecting things aren’t quite adding up and it’s not until we pop our heads under the hood and have a look that the customer realises what shape they are in. So long story short, go with your gut instinct. It may be that everything is actually ok, in which case, please refer to point #1.
A few years ago, some players in the New Zealand market started trying to change things. This involved creating fixed products that could be dropped into your business.
What this achieved was removing a client’s ability to receive a tailored service for their business. Instead, you had to fit into box A, B or C.
IT is not that simple and never will be, so you require a partner that can tailor their offering to suit how you operate, not the other way around.
4. Keeping pace
The IT industry never sits still. New technologies arrive every other day and a capable IT company will invest in understanding these new technologies and take the time to present them to their clients.
Take the cloud for instance. OneCall was an early adopter of cloud technologies even though it meant less revenue for our company. The converse of this is an IT company not keeping pace for whatever reason and pushing on-premise kit to all their clients.
When engaging with your IT provider, you should be left with a sense that all options have been presented and explained, not just the same old systems they have been selling you for years.
Delivering IT services to businesses is sometimes hard. In an ideal world you would pick up the phone and have your favourite engineer on the other end straight away, every time, but this often isn’t possible.
A capable IT company should deliver their services in a known, measured manner. This involves:
- Prioritising things well
- Ensuring they have enough skilled staff to provide support when needed
- Keeping clients in the loop on timeframes
- Measuring responsiveness and evaluating this constantly
Anything other than this is a hit and miss. At OneCall we aim for consistency of service and measure how we are faring. If things are looking like we aren’t meeting our clients’ expectations we can respond quickly.
Unlike other professional service sectors, the IT industry does not have any formal framework that requires staff to have a certain qualification to work in the sector. Take law for instance, you can’t be a lawyer without having a law degree and being admitted to the bar, same goes for architects, dentists, and accountants.
This results in anyone being able to be employed in the industry, but sometimes can lead to bad outcomes for clients. Suitable qualifications should exist within the IT company that supports you, and these qualifications should be kept in line with the services/products being supported.
Often when tendering for IT contracts we supply a schedule of qualifications our engineers hold, so don’t be scared to ask your IT provider for the information about the qualifications and experience of their team, again this folds back into the Transparency section above.
Time to Upgrade?
So, does your current IT provider make the grade? If not, and you would like to work with a company that does, feel free to get in touch with our team for a coffee and a conversation about how we can better look after your IT requirements.