Many outsourced IT support companies claim to be proactive in managing technology and preventing security breaches when in reality they focus more on reacting than preventing issues. That reactionary approach can cause needless frustration for business owners. It results in sub-par systems and service, unpredictable IT expenses, increased risk of data breaches, loss of revenue, inability to recover from disasters, and closing of businesses. In order to fully protect your company from hackers, and implement and maintain best practices across all systems and networks, it’s important to work with a proactive IT support company.
Signs of Reactionary IT Companies
Don’t become a victim of an IT company that just puts Band-Aids to issues. Consider the following five signs as an indication that you are working with an IT company that solely reacts and has dropped the ball—seriously putting your company at risk.
1. They Do Not Offer or Recommend Multiple Security Layers
Security Magazine reports that over 70 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. An estimated 60 percent of small businesses that are affected by security breaches close down after only 6 months. These hacked businesses average $36,000 to $50,000 in recovery costs.
It is a common misconception that to protect a business from cyber-attack, anti-virus software and a network are all you need. Multiple security layers are vital to accurately minimize the risk of a small business suffering a security breach. Your IT company should have at a minimum the following vital layers in place:
- Having anti-virus/anti-malware software installed on all computers and servers
- Maintaining well-configured network firewalls
- Keeping software regularly & automatically updated
- Ensuring 24/7 monitoring of all devices connected to the network
- Using comprehensive content filtering in the network
- Implementing spam protection for all email accounts
- Establishing cybersecurity training for all employees
- Utilizing password management tools
2. You Have Nagging Issues You Have to Keep Calling About
Your IT company has dropped the ball, if you constantly to call for help about the same nagging issues. Even worse, it is common that not only you have to reach out multiple times, but they will also have response times longer than 15 minutes to even start working on your issue. Imagine what this does to your staff’s productivity and how that translates into lost revenue and poor service to your clients.
..it is common that not only you have to reach out multiple times, but they will also have response times longer than 15 minutes to even start working on your issue
A good IT provider should take a hands-on approach to ensure that they’ve done their job correctly to properly solve the problem, so that they don’t need to be a regular fixture in your office. This doesn’t mean that every issue will be fixed on the first try, but what makes good providers stand out is doing everything they can to get the root of the problem, not just the superficial symptoms of the issue.
Many companies switch IT providers simply because they are not able to resolve issues that occur on a regular basis. If you have experienced slow computers, slow Internet connectivity either inside or outside the office, and outdated backups—then these are just some of the reasons why you should consider whether your provider is truly doing their job.
3. They Can’t Tell You the Last Time Your Backups Were Tested (Or They’re Embarrassed to Admit It)
Without a business continuity plan in place, 75% of companies fall within three years after experiencing a disaster. Poor backup practices are a very common issue that only come to light when an emergency occurs. Some of the most common backup issues include:
- Backups that are poorly configured and not all the right data is backed up
- Backups that are not scheduled as often as is needed
- Data that has stopped backing up without being noticed
- Backup testing that is not being consistently completed
4. They Don’t Visit You Periodically to Ensure Systems and Network Meet Best Practices
A major area where IT providers fall short is not having a clear and methodical process to assess and evaluate how a client’s IT environment lies-up with industry best practices. The result is a duct taped IT infrastructure without a clear plan to address real business issues, and is the reason why they are reactive in nature.
Periodic visits (at least every other month) from your IT specialist are important to ensure that critical areas are addressed such as the security of company’s systems and network, or the adequacy of your business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Technology is constantly evolving, and to keep your IT solutions working smoothly and minimize as many issues as possible, you need regular contact with your IT company. They must establish and regularly review optimal practices across all your company systems and networks. This includes implementing best practices such as:
- Maintaining rigorous backup and password polices
- Implementing standard workstation, server, and security appliance configurations
- Adopting stringent email security measures
- Frequently checking that backups are working, in case data is lost during an emergency
- Regularly reviewing support requests to identify trends and proactively address issues
In our case, we have a dedicated specialist whose primary responsibility is performing a 200-point best practices check on a client’s IT infrastructure monthly. These findings are the foundation to creating an objective, measurable, and standards-driven IT roadmap and budget for clients. Once implemented, clients benefit from:
- A robust technology roadmap that focuses on where your business is going
- A detailed yet simple budget plan helping avoid budget misses and unplanned projects
- Better performing systems that will reduce the volume of IT issues
- A stronger security posture and improved business continuity and disaster recovery
- Your staff is happier, more efficient and mobile, and able to do their best work
5. Your IT Company Doesn’t Create a Comprehensive IT Plan and Budget for Your Organization
Could you easily answer the questions: What will your IT budget look like in the next 3 years? and what strategic projects will you be investing in over the next year?
If you couldn’t, you’re not alone. A great number of business executives struggle to answer questions related to IT spending. The problem is that with IT being the foundation to business operations, having no clear roadmap is like flying a plane without an engine.
The ultimate measure of an MSP is their ability to help you clearly plan for your business’s IT growth and evolution in an objective and objective-driven way. Once your IT provider lays out a plan to help you methodically meet best practices across your IT environment (see sign #4 above), the IT plan and budget almost writes itself.
At this point, your provider’s strategic adviser -or Virtual Chief Information Officer as is known in the industry- will take the technical findings and incorporate more subjective elements that are specific to your business such as how you operate, your goals and challenges, etc. and create and manage the master IT plan.
Expert IT consultants know how to help clients choose ideal solutions for data storage, software, hardware, email, cybersecurity, mobile users—all while crafting a business-specific budget with a forward-thinking perspective.
If any of these 5 signs sound like what your business is going through and would like a deeper dive into what you should be looking for in an IT provider, download our Managed IT Services Buyer’s Guide