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How Do I Know When I’ve Outgrown My Reactive IT Vendor?

Group of help desk engineers working at computers

Big Difference Between an IT Partner and an IT Vendor

Think about it this way. Suppose you notice a problem with your car’s brakes. You take it to a repair shop and tell the mechanic you think your brakes might need replacing. They nod, tell you it definitely sounds like your brakes are bad, and give you a vague estimate of the time and cost for repair.

Why does that response seem uncomfortable to you? Because the mechanic simply listened to you describe the problem, seemed to magically know what was wrong, and did not seem curious about investigating further or offering objective insights.

While you might not accept that kind of behavior with your car mechanic, many organizations accept this kind of behavior with their IT support vendor who may:

  • Rely heavily on your non-technical description of an IT problem.
  • Seem too confident about knowing the answer immediately.
  • “Fix” problems without any further explanation or analysis.

These are not partners. Ask yourself:

  • Do you have to research what equipment you need and purchase consumer-grade equipment from a local store without help from your IT support vendor?
  • Do you have an IT roadmap that outlines how your IT will grow to support your organization in the future?
  • Do you have monthly meetings with your IT support vendor to review data (such as the number of issues, time to resolve those issues, recurring issues, etc.) and understand IT performance as it relates to your business objectives?

An IT partnership involves qualities that dig deep into your technology challenges, and these qualities are important for IT engineers to have when helping organizations. Those qualities include:

1. Listening to your needs, understanding your goals, and assessing your environment.

While explaining your technology problem is important, you need an IT partner who digs into your environment after listening to you. Many tools, processes, and best practices exist to objectively and independently assess technology problems. For example, an IT partner will:

  • Scan and analyze your systems for cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
  • Identify risks preventing successful data backup and disaster recovery.
  • Inventory hardware and software to examine usefulness, quality, and age.

Assessing is a form of discovery where IT partners make an independent analysis of your systems to confirm existing problems, correct false assumptions about the root cause of other problems, and even uncover new problems. Without such discovery, your IT support vendor is not doing their job.

2. Creating an IT roadmap aligned with your priorities and needs.

An independent assessment of your systems and technology challenges is useful. But a true IT partner doesn’t make a to-do list by themselves and start addressing problems without staying aligned with you. Assessments uncover many issues, but an IT partner will create a long-term plan with you that aligns with your priorities.

For example, a reactive IT vendor may just want to start replacing servers and tackling big projects. But you may have printer issues that nag employees every day. An IT partner will meet with you, understand that the printer issues are a priority, and seek to address those issues as soon as possible.

While addressing these nagging issues, a more proactive partner will also work with you to ensure your IT supports your organization’s long-term success. IT investments should help you save money, reduce inefficiencies, and meet important business objectives—and not simply react to fires. A proactive partner sees the larger picture and helps you make wise IT decisions that progress your organization toward its biggest goals while also addressing important day-to-day problems.

3. Clear, objective recommendations.

IT partners base recommendations on your priorities and their independent assessment of your systems. Recommendations should be vendor-agnostic and aimed to help you improve productivity, save money, and/or achieve specific goals.

Some IT vendors act as biased resellers of hardware, software, and equipment, and their recommendations will “mysteriously” involve urging you to purchase those products—even if they don’t fit an immediate need. An IT partner should provide objective recommendations that seek out the best solution for the lowest cost—regardless of what company makes the product.

4. Ongoing, proactive project management, periodic checkups, and regular meetings.

Reactive IT support will only fight fires. Inevitably, fires will recur because root causes are not addressed. Instead, IT partners provide ongoing, proactive project management that includes a variety of activities such as:

  • Monitoring and alerting of your technology systems for issues
  • Continually patching your software to keep you secure
  • Regular training to keep your organization safe from cyberattacks
  • Real-time monitoring of your data backups and periodic data backup testing
  • Enforcing records retention policies to ensure compliance with industry regulations

Transparency is also important. For example, VC3 provides its clients a monthly report that analyzes an organization’s IT performance by looking at the number of issues resolved, the time taken to resolve issues, and other important metrics. This information is communicated during a monthly meeting with a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) with deep expertise about the needs of your organization.

IT is not a fire to put out.

It’s an essential part of your operations that needs proactive, ongoing oversight by IT partners who are protecting you from cyberattacks, permanent data loss, and other disruptions to operations. IT partners will also periodically check up on you and meet to discuss how priorities and needs have changed.

Ready for Better IT Support?

Technology has grown and advanced alongside your organization. It’s time to consider a strategic, proactive IT partner that will support your organization today and evolve with you tomorrow.

VC3 partners with over 400 organizations across the United States to improve IT reliability and efficiency. A strategic technology partner can work with you to ensure your IT helps you grow and not hold you back.

We can examine where you are today, envision where you want to be tomorrow, and help you build a budget and roadmap to get there. Complete the form below and we’ll schedule a short call with you to learn more about your business and IT needs.

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