Top 5 tips to getting better value form your IT support provider
- Move from paying by the hour to unlimited IT support
- Bundle standard products with your IT support services
- Get real IT service guarantees based on a measurable
- Have your IT support provider manage your other IT vendors
- Have written strategic plans for future budgeting and improvements
Move from paying by the hour to unlimited IT support
Unless you have a bottomless pit of spare cash and your personnel have all the time in the world to manage IT requirements you shouldn’t engage on a time based billing arrangement. You should have an agreed fixed monthly fee that provides unlimited access to your provider’s services. If you can’t get them to include unlimited access to every service, then at the very least you should have unlimited access to support.
Otherwise every time there is a requirement it will generally involve two people.
- The person with the requirement
- The person with the authority to authorise the cost
Additionally if it’s an issue that requires fixing, you never know how long it may take to fix, this issue could take 15 minutes or may turn out to be a 3 hour episode. Which means if you are paying the industry standard of $150.00 per hour, it may be a $37.50 fix or a $450.00 fix?
However if you have a fixed price for unlimited IT support, then every user can get every requirement addressed as and when it arises without involving additional personal.
Bundle Product with Services
Every IT system requires, Anti-Virus, spam and phishing security products. Similarly, all good IT Support companies will utilise ITSM (Information Technology System Management) tools to manage and support your network efficiently. All the best ITSM tools on the market today have these security products built in to them.
It’s much cheaper to include these products with the service offering, than it is to purchase third party products specifically for your network. So ask for these to be bundled into the monthly support costs.
In addition to the direct cost savings, you will also save downtime on your network if one of these products has an issue. As you can imagine there are literally hundreds of anti-virus, spam and phishing products on the market. It’s impossible for your provider to know the intricacies of every one of them. However if you standardise to what they themselves deploy across hundreds of environments you can be certain they will be highly educated on those products.
Get real IT service guarantees based on a measurable
Most every provider will offer guarantees, the most common are around response times. This is due to the fact that, when something goes wrong, you want to know that it will be actioned within an acceptable agreed time frame.
I’ve seen all sorts of guarantees, regardless of what they are offering, make certain it’s clear what the guarantee means, how its measured and reported. Also ensure that it clearly states the penalty for not meeting the guarantee.
For example: let’s take a guaranteed response time as it’s the most common offed. So let’s say you have a guarantee that they will respond within one hour to every call logged.
- What constitutes a response – does it simply mean they will acknowledge you have a requirement or does it mean you will have an engineer actively working to address that requirement within the guaranteed time?
- How is it measured – however you log the call for assistance, how is captured, is it time and date stamped when you log it and then time and date stamped as to when they responded?
- How is it reported – do they provide a report each month that clearly identifies the response times achieved or missed for the period? If you do have a query can they drill down to a specific call and provide evidence of the response.
- What’s the penalty – if they do miss a response time what do you receive as compensation?
If some or all of these are missing from your agreement, or there are grey areas open for interpretation then the guarantee isn’t worth anything.
Have your IT support provider manage your other IT vendors
In addition to the standard network environment, Servers, Workstations and Laptops etc. There will be a number of additional providers, your Internet Service Provider, Website Hosting Company, Telecommunications provider and so on.
All of these services interact and traverse your internal network so it makes sense that the same company managing the internal network, should also be responsible for managing issues or requirements with these external parties.
Having your IT support provider manage all your vendors has three key benefits:
- It saves you time as you only have one company to call
- They are in the best position to understand the technicalities of an issue and the impact on other parts of the network or programmes so they can liaise better with the provider.
- It stops the old “it’s not us, it’s them”, circle of blame. If the buck truly stops with your provider then you can be sure they are going to pull out all stops to get whatever is needed done.
Have written strategic plans for future budgeting and improvements
You can’t plan for something without first knowing it’s going to be required. Your IT support provider should be providing you with notification of things such as,
- End of life hardware or software
- Out of warranty hardware
- Licensing renewals
- Third party agreement ending dates, such as your ISP
You need to be aware of these as they add expense to your whole IT equation. However just knowing about them isn’t enough; your provider should be documenting them into a formalised report.
This goes not for just those mentioned, but also improvements or future requirements. Your provider should enquire about things such as your planned future growth or changes to the way you will be operating due to technical advancements within your particular industry.
It’s only with this information can you avoid costly unexpected expenses or even worse purchase a solution that fits today, but in twelve months becomes redundant.
This report should be reviewed, decisions made as to what action will be taken and then be delivered over the agreed time period.
Most importantly these reports need to be produced at regular intervals for most organisations this would be six monthly.