I Spend a Fortune on IT – Why Do I have Nothing But Problems?
This is a common concern with business owners. You expect good IT to streamline and improve how your business functions; but instead, it ends up eating up a significant chunk of your budget and leads to frustration. IT expenditure is cyclic – most businesses refresh their major infrastructure every 4 to 5 years. But an increasing IT spend, particularly for IT support is a sign that things are going wrong. So, where is your IT partnership going wrong, and how do you set it right? How do you save money on IT support? Our expert Managed IT Services team in Perth helps you find the answers.
Why is my IT expenditure on the rise?
More often than not, your IT budget goes up, because your IT infrastructure is aging but it could also be a sign you are being over serviced, or nobody has their finger on the pulse to keep costs in check. While experience counts towards quality service, IT providers must be able to leverage this experience into creating custom solutions for your business. Your business is unique, and you don’t want a cookie-cutter solution that fits every other business except your own. Here are a few questions you may like to ask yourself as you prepare to review your existing IT contract or if you are considering trying a new provider. Before you start asking these questions, it is essential that you have a clear idea of your current business goals, organisational requirements, your needs for the short-term and long-term, and what role you expect IT to perform in all these. The answers to these questions will help you evaluate the existing cracks in your IT system and communicate better with your IT provider – either old or new.
At the minimum, there is no harm in asking the asking your IT provider directly “Why is my IT expenditure on the rise? How do I save money on IT support?” They may have a good explanation.
Does your IT provider offer the right type of services?
What is included in the contract and what will be billed separately?
Most providers offer a ‘range of services.’ Often businesses end up surprised when they get a bill for a service, that they thought was included in the contract. To avoid such situations, it is advisable that the contract specifies in detail all the services that are covered and what will be billed separately, the billing cycle, periodicity of review of services, the level of support for each service etc. A detailed contract will help you avoid unexpected costs, and throw some light on how to save money on IT support.
How good are they with cyber-security?
Is their helpdesk available 24/7?
Do they obtain systems and components from authorised dealers?
While it is okay to source from different dealers for systems and components, you need to ensure that you are being provided with quality stuff. Often, low-cost components are obtained in an effort to drive costs down. Low quality products need to be replaced often and instead end up driving costs up. If you prefer to source from a particular product manufacturer, you may want to include the particulars in the service contract. As an example – reputable companies will usually prefer to work with big brands like Dell, HP, or Lenovo. Smaller, unreliable companies may build their own computers to save money. When you buy a big brand, the warranty is dependable even when the IT company has moved on.
Do they provide proactive support?
A good MSP will actively monitor your systems, find, and fix issues before they can turn into IT outages. For example, Computing Australia uses its proprietary CloudSuite package to actively monitor 24/7 client computers and critical infrastructure.
What is the mode of communication?
All successful service partnerships have one thing in common – clear communication channels. Communication is not limited to raising support tickets. There need to be periodic reviews of the IT function, Service Level Agreements (SLA) reviews, performance reviews etc. As your business evolves, you should be able to communicate the new requirements to the right people at the right time. Most IT Service Agreements have the existing process flows specified. But no business can remain static if it wants to progress. Your IT support should be agile and accessible to respond to new requirements and crises, which brings us to the next point.
Do they provide a dedicated Business Account Manager?
A dedicated Business Account Manager (BAM) is essential for smooth communication and a long-term relationship with an IT service provider. A BAM will be able to understand your business, plans for the future, short-term and long-term goals, and help to align the IT function with the organisational goals.
Do they understand your business?
While an IT service provider needs to integrate into your business fast, it is also crucial that they understand your business, its processes, goals, values, customers very well. Not understanding the client’s business is one of the main reasons that most IT partnerships fail. This leads to ineffective solutions being implemented which can lead to loss of revenue and time. Reworking IT processes and solutions lead to further delays and cost overruns.
Depending on the nature and scope of your business, you may need to add or change some of the above questions. But this is a good place to start. If your answer was not favourable to most of the questions, then your IT infrastructure is definitely not in a good shape and you probably have the wrong provider. It might be the reason, why you are still facing issues, even after spending a healthy budget on IT. Initially, hiring a provider who charges you the lowest, might seem a good option. But in the long run, you end up spending more than you would have spent on a good IT provider in the first place. You may need to take some tough steps like change the ageing IT infrastructure, review, and rework the existing IT service contract, or find a new MSP altogether. These steps will get you started on how to save money on IT support.
Managed IT Service Provider – a third-party service provider who manages your IT functions and applications.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) – an agreement between a service provider and a client. An SLA lays out the metrics and aspects of the service like quality, availability, responsibilities, by which it is measured and the remedies and penalties.