It’s inevitable - you found a great information technology (IT) resource that fit well with your company’s culture, you invested in training to get him up to speed on your critical systems and after a few years he lets you know he has taken that knowledge and found another job. Or perhaps you have found that your needs have grown and your IT resource just hasn’t been able to keep up with the changes so you decide to part ways. If you are like many companies today, your business relies on technology, not only for internal management, but also for customer acquisition and service. Doing business without IT support is just not an option.
With many companies, the first instinct is to immediately begin the search for a new IT resource, but as you just found out, having the resource on staff doesn’t always work out to your advantage. So, what steps should you consider when your IT resource leaves?
Step 1: Triage
As when any employee leaves, you should start by changing key passwords and disabling that user’s accounts. If you are lucky, your resource gave you a couple weeks notice, giving you a small window of time to put together an interim solution to maintain your systems. If you’re not so lucky, you will need to address this issue quickly. This is a good time to draw from previous experiences working with an IT company or get a quick referral from someone you trust. You will want to ensure that you have access to some technology support until you are able to make a decision on how to permanently proceed. If necessary, have a previously used IT company help you ensure passwords are changed, your backups are working, and your data is secured.
Step 2: Determine your Needs
Now that you have mitigated risk by finding a temporary solution for supporting your IT, it’s time to look for a replacement for your resource. Before running an ad in the local paper or combing Monster.com, you may want to take a moment to consider outsourcing your IT needs to a managed service provider. Often times organizations find that outsourcing their IT allows them to get better support than can be provided by an internal technology resource. Managed service providers specialize in supporting organization’s technology solutions through the implementation of best practices, the inclusion of specific solutions designed to mitigate risk, improvement of system stability, and maximization of network uptime. With a provider, you receive an entire team of IT resources, with a variety of specialties, certifications, and experience. This, combined with a standard technology stack usually costs about the same as hiring a single IT resource. Most managed service providers will be happy to meet with your business, review your needs, and discuss the benefits that they can bring as an outsourced provider.
Ask A Pro What Your Company Needs
Step 3: Get Engaged
If you have determined that outsourcing you IT support to a provider meets the needs of your business, make sure to take full advantage of the engagement process. When evaluating potential providers, make sure to spend some time asking questions and meeting some of the provider’s staff. As with an internal IT resource, working with a provider is a relationship, and you want to be sure that the provider is a good fit for your company. Make sure that they are clear on your needs and that you are comfortable with their level of expertise. Some key items you should consider when engaging with a provider:
- Process Driven - Ensure that the provider utilizes processes in all aspects of their service delivery.
- Technical Expertise - Ask about their technical expertise and how it relates to your organization’s IT.
- Best Practices - Make certain the provider will establish and maintain best practices within your organization
- Service Levels - Ask about the service levels you can expect from the provider.
- Vendor Management - Determine how the provider works with your various IT vendors, such as your Internet provider. Ensure they are willing to work with the vendor.
- Customer Service – Make sure the provider is focused on customer service and satisfaction. Determine if they have a team member dedicated to service satisfaction.
- Security & Compliance – Evaluate if the provider understands your security and compliance needs and that they are prepared to address them.
- Technology Advisor/Virtual CIO – Ensure that the provider will routinely meet with you to discuss your organization’s direction and how technology plays into your growth.
- Proactive Approach to Support - Ask the provider what they do to proactively support your organization’s technology solutions.
- Communication - This is one of the most important aspects of a managed service partnership, make certain that you can easily communicate with the provider at various levels.
Step 4: Establish the Partnership
Now that you have done your due diligence and identified a provider that you are comfortable with and that meets the needs of your business, you are ready to partner. I use the word partner because as with any relationship, it is critical to maintain an open channel of communication between yourself and your provider so you get the most out of the relationship. While the provider will handle support of your IT without a lot of discussion, ensuring that you spend the time to discuss your organization’s direction and needs will help your provider develop the appropriate courses of action and direction for your technology. If your business has regular meetings, invite your provider to sit in - it doesn’t have to all be about IT - often, by simply better understanding how your business works, providers can make recommendations on how to utilize IT to help solve problems in ways you may not have thought about. Ultimately, make your provider a member of your team.
Things may not be the same without your IT guy, and that may be good or bad, however, by engaging with a team dedicated to ensuring you have a secure, stable, and productive IT environment that is aligned with your business goals, you can now avoid that uncomfortable feeling of being without an IT guy ever again.