Taking a careful approach to IT
In the world of small business information technology is important and the wrong choice can cost you big, in the long run. IT Managed Services Providers are a dime a dozen. There are probably at least a hundred in Tampa alone. One thing all MSPs have in common is the sales rep. You have seen them before, they come in to sell you their hardware, software, or services and throw out a bunch of technology buzzwords that usually leave you scratching your head. They will suggest multiple solutions but always highlight the one that they want you to have. What you might not know is on the back end, different vendors such as HP will offer “spiffs” for selling a particular product every quarter. The sales rep will not only get their commission from the sale but will also get that additional “spiff” at the end of the year for selling that product. That product might not be for you. While this tactic bodes well for the MSP and sales rep, it can send your business down the wrong path. Sure, there are businesses out there that need an infrastructure of multiple ESX hosts, with dozens of virtual machines all running different applications, but odds are that is not needed at your small-medium sized business.
Everybody loves a good sales rep. They are great, personable individuals who always have a smile on their face and are always willing to help. In most cases, IT sales reps are not technicians. While they may be certified, in a lot of cases, it is a sales certification. Having sat through some of these myself, I can tell you that while they do touch on the equipment and features, they are ultimately geared towards how to sell the equipment. Engage with a technician to help you identify how to improve your infrastructure, before reaching out to a sales rep or following their suggestions, if possible. Trust, but verify.
In the tech world it is easy to overbuy/oversell and underbuy/undersell. The best way to avoid these issues is reaching out to other providers in the industry. Even if you have been with your IT guy for years it doesn’t hurt to get a second, or third, opinion. In most cases that opinion won’t even cost you anything. And if you have been with the same IT guy for a long time this could be a sign of another issue. Technology is forever changing, just like your business, and with change comes different needs. You should at least be reviewing your IT needs annually to ensure you are heading in the right direction.
When making upgrades, or changes, to your business’ technology, always ensure that what you are purchasing is the right size for your team and that it will integrate easily into your workflow. When possible, avoid drastic changes. For example, moving your Exchange server to Office 365 is a great transition, but moving your Exchange server to Google Business, or vice versa, could be very disruptive to your workflow. Don’t get caught up in all the buzzwords and great smiles. Do your research, and comparisons, to ensure you get IT right.
Ron Slyker is CEO of Radiant Technology Solutions in Clearwater, which specializes in IT support for small businesses across the bay. Reach Slyker at 727-493-4723 or [email protected].