In any relationship, when things are good, they’re usually pretty good. And when things are bad, sometimes they are really bad. There may come a point when you need to evaluate whether you’re still a good fit together.
Just like with a romantic relationship, your firm’s connection to a service provider (especially an infrastructure/cloud provider you rely on daily) should be strong enough to withstand a few hiccups and healthy enough to warrant open communication at all times. In some cases, it might be clear that you’re in a good place and moving forward together, but sometimes there are sure signs it’s time to call it quits.
Here are a few of those signs:
1. Your provider’s service levels are not up to snuff.
Maybe you recently experienced a major service outage or find that you not-so-conveniently have to work around confusing and interrupting maintenance schedules during work hours. You’re constantly frustrated and don’t feel like you are receiving the level of support that was agreed to – both verbally and as part of your Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Your SLA should clearly indicate the uptime standard as well as repercussions to any breaches in the contract and associated RPOs if disaster recovery is involved.
2. Communication is lacking – and sometimes nonexistent.
The key to any successful relationship is communication. Without it, there’s no chance for success. Like with any romantic partner, an investment firm must be able to communicate effectively with its service provider – and receive the proper amount of communication in return.
You may be unhappy with your IT service provider if you find that you don’t hear from your Client Manager often or only ever reach their voicemail. If you call into the provider’s Help Desk with an urgent issue and notice the call gets routed to a cell phone (or doesn’t get picked up at all), it’s time to take a step back and think about your relationship. A successful IT provider will be attentive to your needs – both urgent and ongoing – and keep in constant communication with you to ensure you feel the level of support you require on a daily basis.
3. Your provider seems cool with the status quo.
Beyond troubleshooting technology issues and performing routine upgrades and maintenance, your technology provider should also be on the cutting-edge. It’s not enough to be okay with the status quo these days – your provider should be leading the charge in new technologies (think cybersecurity and cloud technology) and practices to make your job easier. Without innovation, you’re simply stuck. If your provider isn’t open to new ideas or seems hesitant to change and evolve, it may be a sign that this isn’t the right relationship for you. To succeed and grow in your business, you need and should expect your IT firm to do the same.
4. Plain and simple – you’ve outgrown them.
Speaking of growing in your business, if you’re smart you’re already thinking ahead to the future. You have a 3 or 5-year plan in motion and expect positive growth in the coming years. But can your IT provider handle that? Can it handle dozens (or even hundreds) of new user accounts and corresponding data increases? Can it handle evolving technology and adding and supporting new application sets? As your business grows, can your provider connect you to counterparties around the world and make your workflow more efficient? If the answer to these questions is “no,” then it’s time to say goodbye and identify a true partner that can complement your business and grow with you.
A true IT business partner is someone who understands your strengths, balances your weaknesses and puts your needs above all others. Can you say that about your current IT provider? If not, it’s probably time to have the talk. And maybe start dating again soon with some of these tips in mind.
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This article has been updated. It was originally published by Kaleigh Alessandro in October 2014.
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