No one wants to overpay for IT, but it’s very possible that you’re sabotaging your business if you’re trying to keep costs low by under-investing in IT. The word “investment” is key here, because if you don’t spend the dollars up front, you’re going to end up spending them down the road and it’s probably going to cost you more that way.
The cost of cheap IT shows up in extra invoices each month for services that you thought were included in your service agreement. The cost of cheap IT is paid in wasted time when employees are slowed down and stopped by problems. The cost of cheap IT could appear as underachievement because the frustration and stress that goes along with unpredictable technology translates into unhappy employees and unsatisfied customers.
Is IT Just Overhead or Fuel for Your Business Goals?
Before we paint a picture of what cheap IT looks like, there’s a question that you should answer for yourself and it’s this – What’s your viewpoint of the value of technology?
Is technology just a piece of overhead or is it a tool that you use to improve your business and enable operations? If you’re struggling with technology right now, it could be because these two concepts conflict and your expectations for the results you’re going to get from cheap IT aren’t realistic.
Here are five ways that cheap IT can show up in your business:
What Cheap IT Looks Like
1. Problems Never Go Away
Never ending IT problems are a sign that you’re under-investing in IT. We’re not saying that you should expect to never have a problem, but when issues pop up, they should be addressed and resolved.
The root cause of continuous IT problems could be that you’re not using the right technology. Maybe you have some systems that aren’t compatible, or you’re trying to get software to do something that it wasn’t intended to do.
Another reason for ongoing IT issues could be that the IT team doesn’t have the depth of expertise that’s needed to get to the bottom of the issue.
2. S L O W Response Time
If every problem that you had was solved quickly, the number of problems might not matter so much, but another factor that goes with cheap IT is slow response time. Every support ticket might not need urgent action but there are plenty that could.
What if it took days to get something as simple as a password reset? Are you okay with that employee not being able to do their work while they wait for the help desk to respond?
What if your whole network was down and business operations were stopped? Say that happened for a whole afternoon. Picture every employee idle, and the ones who aren’t idle are frantically trying to take care of customers without the use of their computers. What’s that going to cost?
Slow response time is a sign that IT is understaffed. It could also be a sign that your IT support company isn’t the right fit, and that other customers have priority over you.
3. Your Time Gets Hijacked
If you’re the point of contact at your company for IT, you’re the person who gets phone calls and emails with requests and complaints that you have to deal with right now. Not only do you have to drop whatever you’re doing to try to help employees, you have a constant stream of back and forth with your IT people trying to get some action.
In addition to becoming stressed because they can’t do their job when their technology isn’t working, employees often try to fix problems themselves, or create their own workarounds. The time they spend doing this is time that they’re not spending on billable work. That’s going to be a hit to your bottom line.
Don’t downplay the importance of technology in customer satisfaction. If your employees take longer to meet customer needs, or even just get answers to questions, it gives them a reason to consider another vendor.
4. You Have a Cyber Attack
There’s a difference between having a cyber incident and a data breach. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll never have some sort of cyber intruder incident, but if you have cheap IT an incident may turn into a full-blown data breach.
This could be because the IT team doesn’t have sufficient expertise in cyber security, and that the company hasn’t invested in the advanced tools that are needed to monitor and stop threats before they do damage.
The cost of a cyber attack is devastating. There’s downtime while the attacker has control. Downtime could continue until the hack has been cleaned up and new technology put in place.
There could be legal fees and penalties. Expect your reputation with customers, vendors, and your employees to be tarnished which could have a huge impact on the future of your business.
5. IT Improvements Are Disappointing
Another outcome that can come from cheap IT is that when you do decide to spend money on improvements, you don’t get the outcome that you were expecting.
Oftentimes, IT projects go over budget on costs because the IT team runs into problems that they didn’t anticipate. For example, they didn’t realize that to update your line-of-business software that your data base software had to be updated, and updating that software requires another hardware upgrade.
If you had proper IT guidance regarding the appropriate hardware and software that you should be using, then you’d have better outcomes from your investments.
It also takes an experienced project team to anticipate and plan out every detail of your project so that you don’t end up with extended downtime and problems upon launch.
Related: Download "5 Signs IT is Underperforming" to discover if gaps in IT capability are limiting your business success
Determine the True Cost of IT
We can’t imagine that the results of cheap IT that we just described are okay with you. It’s very possible that the vendor painted a very different and rosier picture of what you could expect from their flat fee when they told you that you were going to get “managed” services.
What else can you do to predict if a low-cost IT provider is actually going to cost you more in the long run? Make sure that you know exactly what’s included and what is not.
Here are a few questions to ask when you’re vetting your managed IT service company options:
1. Is on-site support included? If it isn’t then you can expect an extra bill every time someone has to come to your location.
2. Is Level 2 or escalation support included? If you’re just getting “Help Desk” then that could mean that anything that isn’t an easy fix is going to cost extra.
3. Will they support your other equipment? This can include printers, bar code scanners, manufacturing equipment, and more – anything that’s connected to your network.
4. Is vendor management included? Whether it’s your ISP company, your phone manufacturer, or a software provider, you’ll want to know if the IT company is going to give you a bill every time they have to interact with them on your behalf.
5. Is IT consulting included? Executives need IT guidance that they can trust, and a cheap IT offering might not have vCIO (virtual Chief Information Officer) services at all, or they might offer it at an additional cost.
6. How experienced is their team? What you’re looking for in the answer to this question are certifications that validate expertise.
Look for an MSP That Invests in Their Team and Tools
The reason why a good MSP costs more is because they have invested in their team and in the tools that they use. They’re up to date with industry best practices and have developed processes that result in predictable technology on which you can scale.
Here at XPERTECHS, we’ve seen what happens when we lose a prospect to an IT company that’s a lot cheaper than we are. More often than not, when their contract comes due in two or three years, we get a call back and an invitation to renew our conversation with them.
Ready to Get More Value from IT?
If you’re struggling with any of the problems we’ve mentioned here and are stuck with extra costs for services that you thought were included with your flat fee, get in touch. We’ll help you discover how you can get more value for your IT dollars, and use technology to improve your business.
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