Businesses are built on relationships. And just like personal relationships sometimes fade overtime, business relationships do too. Unless, of course, the relationship is maintained well. If your relationship with your IT provider has lost its spark, you have two options, repair the relationship, or cut your losses.
This article contains several signs that your relationship might have gone sour. If it has, Endsight recommends you start by trying to work it out with your current vendor. At the very least, you might be able to negotiate better terms. But if it's not repairable, move on.
With that, let's get into the eleven signs you may have outgrown your managed IT provider. I'm going to start with two points that seem obvious but are worth mentioning because they are trickier than the others.
1. Your employees complain more about IT lately
You specifically may experience your IT provider very differently than most of your co-workers/employees. Though great managed IT providers will treat every person at your company fairly, not all do. Some will label executives and decision-makers as VIP contacts who get white-glove service. It's hard to tell if everyone else is getting the shaft on their IT issues unless you are soliciting feedback at every opportunity. Bottom line, take employee sentiment toward company-wide services, like your tech support, very seriously.
2. You have a hard time justifying value you receive vs price you pay for IT services
If your managed IT provider has not taken the time to help you understand exactly what you are paying for, it's important to set up a meeting with your point of contact. Regardless of the reason, your IT provider should be able to provide terms and an easy to understand explanation of the benefits and services you are receiving. That way, you can compare your cost and see an obvious return on investment. But if there is not an obvious return, it could be a sign you have outgrown your vendor.
3. Support ticket resolution time has increased
Let's now look at the IT support help desk. Each IT problem that arises should be tracked in an individual support ticket. If it's more than a year and it's now taking you longer to get your issues resolved than it did when you first started working with the vendor, you may be outgrowing your vendor. As you scale in size and complexity, your IT vendor needs to keep up with you, or you need a better option.
Another way to measure this is by globally looking at outstanding ticket volume. If this is larger month over month, you have a problem.
If anything, your open ticket volume should be shrinking due to more efficiency in your infrastructure and technology policies. However, if it's growing, it means that your IT services company certainly cannot keep up with either your business growth or the growth of another client that the service provider might be serving. Be cautious when the total number of outstanding tickets per employee is getting higher month-over-month or year-over-year. Under normal circumstances, this should never happen.
4. Everything is break-fix
When you first started working with your IT vendor, you may have done a few big projects, or you may have shored up some poor configurations that were causing slowness in your network. These projects were meant to make your network more efficient. Since then, they should be coming to you with issues that you may not know about through proactive maintenance and monitoring.
Also, they should be offering regular checkups and strategy sessions. If not, you might be drowning in break-fix mode. This is akin to surviving rather than thriving. Break-fix IT tends to happen when your IT vendor doesn’t have the ability to get ahead of the curve to help you thrive with your technology.
5. Excessive wait times
How long does it take to reach an able and willing IT support engineer to troubleshoot your computer or a tech-related issue? If it's more than five minutes, then you might be working with a company that is stretched on capacity. If you are curious as to what is normal, look at these IT support help desk benchmarks and see how you might compare on wait time.
6. IT provider lacks a strategic approach
Your business technology polices, processes, and infrastructure should be spot on with your organization in terms of the business model and business mission. Your managed services provider should be so focused on strategic IT that your main topic of discussion with your account manager is IT strategy.
7. Not current on tech trends
Are you and your vendor BOTH current on tech trends? Your ability to execute with a competitive advantage in your industry highly depends on your knowledge of industry tech trends, but more importantly, on your trusted IT provider’s knowledge and ability to explain those trends to you and how they can help your business. Your IT vendor should have an open and ongoing dialogue about tech trends that are relevant to your business. These can unlock fantastic opportunities and safeguard you from potential risks relating to IT.
8. The relationship doesn't feel like a partnership
A good managed services provider is a partner. You strategize with them. You diagnose issues together. They teach you about technology and share the why behind your infrastructure setup. And you teach them about your business. What is your gut telling you about how a partnership should operate? It should feel like a profitable partnership and a win-win business relationship. Do you and your IT provider operate this way?
9. The contract contains broken promises
Does your contract have broken promises? When you first started with the outsourced IT provider, you had an agreement on certain things. How is it playing out now? How many broken promises can you spot? More likely than not, their motives are not malicious, rather the vendor can’t serve you with the same terms now that you've outgrown them.
10. Your managed IT provider feels like a stranger
Like I said at the beginning of this article, relationships fade. Words may have been said, or situations happened, that stirred up anger or destroyed trust. Now the relationship is sour. If you feel that you don't know your IT vendor, it’s a bad sign.
Sometimes you must be the bigger person and confront the issue head-on. One thing is certain, remaining strangers is not going to serve you, your employees, and certainly not your IT vendor. Hopefully, your IT vendor is willing to earn back your trust. This might have less to do with outgrowing them, and more to do with not being well maintained as a client.
11. Billing and approvals are a headache
Do IT projects or even monthly support reconciliation eat up your time? Are you constantly going back and forth with your managed IT provider on costs and prices? Do you know your vendor billing department better than your vendor's client strategy team? If so, you may have surpassed the capacity of your vendor to effectively serve you. However, sometimes this has nothing to do with outgrowing your vendor, sometimes it simply means that you have outgrown your contract. If you think it might be the latter, revisit the contract and look over it together. However, if you suspect the former, look for a new IT vendor.
Are you experiencing most of these signs?
Your decision about what managed IT provider to partner with is important. It not only affects every single employee on a day to day basis with how effectively they can get their work done, but it affects your company's success. Your managed IT vendor is a leveraged component of your business and should make it much better than if you were doing your IT support, management, security, and strategy internally.
If there are more symptoms of outgrowing your managed IT provider than you can count on one hand, it’s probably time to move onto a managed service provider (MSP) that will help you and your business thrive. Try this guide on how to select your next IT vendor helpful. Though IT vendor management is a two-way street, the decision is ultimately yours to find a vendor that can grow with your capacity and scale with you. Good luck!