6 Common Problems With Outsourced IT (& How To Avoid Them)
You know you need help. You may be experiencing long lag times, concerned about cybersecurity, or have been notified that your aging firewall is no longer supported. Whatever the reason, you need help but aren’t sure where to start.
You may have a small internal IT staff that is overwhelmed or you may have no internal IT support at all. You’re thinking about outsourcing some or all of your IT functions, but you’ve heard conflicting stories from those who have taken that leap.
I get it. I work for an IT provider and we hear stories like yours from potential customers every day. I’m not here to sell you on working with an outside IT provider, but want to explain some of the common problems customers tell us they’ve had with IT providers and how you can avoid them.
After reading this article, you’ll know the pitfalls to look for and how to avoid them if you work with an outside IT provider to get the support your organization needs.
What Are The 6 Most Common Problems With Outsourced IT?
We hear lots of stories from customers who come to us for help. Here are some of the most common problems they tell us they are having with their current IT provider:
Problem 1. Slow Response Time
One of the most common issues we hear from potential customers is that their current IT provider has been slow to respond to service requests.
Slow response time can lead to extended periods of downtime that no organization operating in today’s fast-paced global economy can afford. Downtime causes frustration for your internal users and for customers and can ultimately lead to lost business opportunities.
How To Avoid It
Make sure your contract includes a service level agreement that spells out exactly what response time is guaranteed. Understand the implications if the provider doesn’t meet the agreement. Hold your provider to the agreed-upon timeframe. Make sure you provide the information your IT provider needs to understand your issue.
Problem 2. Unclear Service Process
Sometimes an IT provider doesn’t have a clearly defined service process, which leaves your users unsure of the best way to get fast service.
- Should they submit a ticket?
- Should they call the sales rep for the IT provider?
- Should they try to fix it themselves?
- What should they do if they don’t hear back?
- How do they follow up?
How To Avoid It
Never work with an IT provider that doesn’t have a well-defined service process. That may sound simple, but it can’t be overstated.
Make sure that you understand the service process and that all of your users understand and follow it. Going around the IT provider’s process can lead to longer resolution time and duplication of effort.
Problem 3. Inadequate Resolution
When people come to us looking to switch IT providers, one of the common reasons is that their current provider comes back many times to fix the same issue. In other words, the issue isn’t fixed right the first time.
This can lead to extended periods of downtime and frustration for customers and internal users. It’s important to have an IT provider that works hard to understand the issue the first time.
It’s kind of like having a plumber you trust. If they can fix your issue on the first try, it’s worth almost any amount of money for the outstanding service.
But, we’ve all worked with a plumber who sends a different person every time or comes to your house multiple times to fix the same issue. When they get there, they may not have the part you need on the truck, which causes another delay.
Your day is disrupted by having to wait for them to get there, wait for them to go get the part you need, having your water turned off for the time they are fixing the issue, and getting charged for each appointment on top of it all!
Eventually, you will get fed up and look somewhere else for service.
How To Avoid It
Before signing a contract, understand the provider’s escalation process.
- What steps does your service request go through and how is it elevated within the provider’s service organization?
- How many times will it take to get something resolved?
- Are most issues resolved remotely?
- At what point does the provider send someone on-site?
Problem 4. Lack Of Planning
Some IT providers fall into the category of break/fix providers. In other words, when something breaks, they come to fix it. This is a responsive solution.
Other IT providers are known as managed service providers (or MSPs). MSPs partner with organizations on an ongoing basis to provide forward-thinking, strategic IT advice and counsel in addition to proactively maintaining and upgrading the organization’s IT infrastructure.
How To Avoid It
Understand the difference between break/fix and managed IT. Know what you need and make sure that your provider is prepared to support you. Don’t expect something that your provider hasn’t told you they would provide.
Ask questions and make sure you fully understand the parameters of your working relationship.
Problem 5. Outsourced Service Desk
In an effort to save money, IT providers may outsource their service desk functions. This isn’t a huge problem or it can be. If the service desk is located in another area of the country or world, it could lead to delays in service or communication issues.
How To Avoid It
Communication plays a key role here, too. Make sure you understand the provider’s IT service solution and how it may affect your ability to get service. Is someone always on call? How many calls are you allotted in a given period? What is the extra charge for additional calls?
Problem 6. Poor Communication
Poor communication can affect a relationship with an IT provider in several ways.
When you have an issue, you need to know that your IT provider understands the issue and the impact it is having on your ability to work. You want to feel heard and understood.
If the provider can’t explain things in terms you understand, you can feel frustrated and unsure that the solution will really solve the problem.
On another level, poor communication can leave customers feeling that their IT provider is more interested in making money than in providing the service the customer thinks is necessary.
The provider may have the best of intentions, but if they don’t (or can’t) explain why they are recommending changes, the customer is left feeling unsure, pushed into making a decision they aren’t sure about, and sometimes even resentful.
How To Avoid It
Spend time getting to know your provider before signing a contract.
- Do you feel seen and valued?
- Do they explain things in terms you understand?
- Do you get a sense that the IT provider will be an extension of your team?
- Do they take the time to get to know your business and your priorities?
- Do they work with other businesses like yours?
- Can you talk to their current customers?
What’s The Next Step In Deciding Whether To Work With An Outside IT Provider?
Now you know six of the most common issues people encounter when working with outside IT providers: slow response time, unclear service process, inadequate resolution, lack of planning, outsourced service desk, and poor communication.
We’ve talked through some strategies that can help you avoid these pitfalls.
The next step is to decide whether “break/fix” or “managed IT services” are the best solution for your organization.
Kelser provides comprehensive managed IT services, and we know that isn’t the right solution for everyone. We take special pride in our ability to partner with organizations to ensure that their IT infrastructure is safe, available, and efficient. We also know it’s important to have the right fit.
We publish articles like this to inform business leaders like you, provide insight, and help you find the right IT solution for your organization.
Wondering what to ask potential IT partners? Check out this article: Questions To Ask Before Signing With A Managed IT Services Provider.