I often hear business owners tell me that they have one of their staff handle IT issues before calling in their IT provider. It usually boils down to costs – something which has their hand on the throttle and can triage problems first “fixing the easy ones” then trying to set and manage expectations with their Managed Services Provider when they do need to pass something along. The fear here is that the problem will drag on and on and result in some humongous bill.
I get it – understand precisely why they think this way, but I see things differently. This approach doesn’t save money and in many cases has a substantial negative impact on the larger costs in the business.
Most people I speak with, when I ask them about their IT costs, they share with me the average invoice amount to their IT Provider over the past three months. Yes, this IS an IT cost, but it is only a drop in the bucket compared to the more substantial costs impacted by IT, namely – your payroll and by extension your bottom line.
There are two types of businesses – those that see IT as a necessary evil – as something on the P&L that needs to be minimized. They see any dollar invested in this area as a sunk cost – money down the drain, and they usually are being forced to spend it through some unplanned outage or disaster that should have been seen coming a mile away.
The other type of business – they see IT as strategic – as a functional area of their business, as important as HR, Finance, Legal. They see the connection between properly managed IT assets to more efficient staff to be able to service more business with the people they have to better margins on the bottom line.
However, here is what often happens:
A business gets fed a line of B.S. by one of the dozens of well-intentioned IT ‘vendors’ who deliver under the old model – as an SG&A cost that needs to be minimized and the promised end-results don’t materialize, and the customer feels cheated. So someone is appointed the Point-Of-Contact to sit between the business and his or her IT Vendor to minimize these costs and drive results, but by this point, several factors rear their ugly head that actually drive UP the businesses costs;
- The time wasted by the POC in ‘managing’ the relationship. Any partner you need to ‘manage’ is just a vendor and slowly erodes profits. As I mentioned in an earlier article IT Support – More than Just Closing Tickets, “True business impact comes from looking at ALL the issues that arise and asking – “Could this have been prevented or the impact minimized?” The answer to this question, when applied to all reactive issues, is the secret to becoming “proactive” versus installing some newfangled monitoring application.”
- The time wasted by the POC in self-medicating – trying to fix issues before having to incur charges (until they give up and hand it over to the provider anyhow)
- The time wasted by the staff in putting up with problems, dealing with slow response times and cobbling together workarounds, all when they could be generating revenue for you
- What if “Common Issues” weren’t supposed to be “common” in the first place? As I mentioned in The Most Common Client Issues, The “common issues”, once they occur, sap your time AND cause you to incur costs with your provider but the common issue isn’t really the issue. The ISSUE is the process your IT vendor uses to manage your technology that allowed the issue to occur in the first place. If your IT vendor’s business model is built around service level agreements and hourly billings then they really don’t have any incentive to truly resolve these common issues so they don’t recur or better, don’t happen to begin with!
- The dollars wasted by unplanned expenses around capital costs you shouldn’t have just because your IT vendor isn’t charging enough to deliver the results you want and they have to make it up around the edges by selling you stuff you probably don’t often need to fix problems they could have prevented – or worse, created themselves.
- The unplanned downtime and general ‘noise’ level often experienced in an environment that isn’t managed properly.
It would be like getting a call from the IRS and having your office manager try to handle the response to minimize invoices from your CPA firm – it just doesn’t make sense!
It’s like I said in my post “Managed Services Tiers – Part 1” – “The tiered services model leaves the bulk of your IT risks on you and, unfortunately, prevents you from holding your provider accountable for results – simply because they can always send you another bill.”
If you’re looking for other ways to refine your processing and staffing in your business, check out our other related thread:
“Stop wasting time reinventing the wheel. Do yourself and your employees a favor, by identifying and documenting what works well in your business and the actions that can be replicated to ensure success.” Sound good? Click the link above to read the full article.Tags: Management, Our Process