If you’re asking this question, my gut tells me it is time for you to look at a new solution. Why? You already know your guy is working harder, not smarter (and it’s costing you). 3-5 years ago, your contracted IT guy was a good fit, and now you’ve outgrown him. You haven’t invested in him and he hasn’t invested in your company; he didn’t scale with you. Here is how to know if it is time to make a change with your IT.
7 Signs That You’ve Outgrown Your Contracted IT Guy
- Are you his biggest client?
- Do many of your issues never get resolved?
- Do you find your new hardware sitting in unopened boxes for weeks or months?
- Is he frequently unavailable when you need him?
- Is he always on the phone with someone else when at your place “working for you”?
- Does he accept frequent network and server outages as a way of life?
- Does he regularly say, “I’ll get back with you” when asked about newer technologies?
If you answered “YES” to three or more of these questions, you need to look and see if any of these next signs are occurring:
Obvious signs of an overwhelmed contracted IT guy:
- Frequent Issues – Because most contracted IT guys are always busy, they can’t keep up with their education and cannot be experts in all things, so they can only troubleshoot issues instead of preventing them. Issues, even small ones, add up and cost your team’s productivity.
- Employee Idle Time – Employees sit idle waiting for your contracted IT guy to come to your office to repair something, while a good IT firm can solve many issues remotely, send someone else from “their bench” if your primary contact is unavailable, and more likely, would have prevented the issue in the first place.
- Lack of Vision – You probably don’t operate a 50-person company like you did when it was a 10-person company, but your contracted IT guy can’t comprehend that because he looks to the past, not to the future for answers, and treats you like his other, much smaller clients. A good IT firm will work with you as you grow and know how to scale with you.
- Lack of Expertise – One person cannot know everything, but a good IT firm will have experts in multiple areas (cyber-security, networking, phones, HIPAA) and have a team with different skill levels to match the right expertise needed for the job.
- Lack of proper Network Security – Because of the lack of expertise by your contracted IT guy, your network is vulnerable, both on the cybersecurity side and from a probable lack of redundancy as well.
- Numerous Inefficiencies – Being a business person, you can spot inefficiencies in processes, even if you’re not knowledgeable in that arena. You’ll find that your contracted IT guy doesn’t have processes, documentation, and does not follow best practices because it’s “all stored in his head”. A lack of documentation makes reactive troubleshooting slower, and a lack of processes means he doesn’t learn from mistakes like a good IT firm will do.
- No Documentation – What would happen if your IT guy gets hit by the proverbial bus? You probably have no documentation and knowledge of your network, so you’re left scrambling (and probably saying a prayer or two!). A good IT firm documents heavily and keeps you in the loop so if the unthinkable happens, another IT professional can continue to support you with little to no impact to your business.
So you’re seeing some of these signs (or even many!), but you’re not worried because eventually things will probably work out. But have you thought of the many ways this costs your business, such as:
ROI of an overwhelmed contracted IT guy:
- Frequent, Small Mistakes Add Up – A 1-hour outage may be acceptable when you have 5 employees, it is an excuse to chat with your colleagues. When you have 50 employees, 1 hour of lost work times 50 people can cost your company tens of thousands of dollars per “small mistake”. Now, how much will multiple small mistakes cost you??
- Your IT Guy is cheaper than a good IT Firm - Don’t let an IT guy’s cheap hourly rate of $75/hour fool you into thinking you can’t afford a good IT firm. Even if that firm’s hourly rate is $125/hour or more, the IT firm has the tools, expertise, and resources to complete a project in a fraction of the time it would take your contracted IT guy. So only comparing hourly rates is like spending a penny to make a nickel, where you could spend the nickel to make a dollar!
So now you’ve seen the signs, and the ROI isn’t too great either. What else can you try to keep your contracted IT guy?
What you can do to keep your outgrown contracted IT guy?
- Push him to scale with you – He may need that push, but most likely he isn’t ready to change his company and bring on enough help to benefit you. Also, it will probably be too late to not cost you more money.
- Scale back your company – I don’t know many CEOs and CFOs that think this is a legitimate option. If you refuse to move beyond your IT guy, you’re succumbing to his limitations and you will either not grow or growth will be painful.
I believe I’ve shown you multiple ways your IT guy is affecting your business financially. Moving on is not personal, and it can be good for him because he probably doesn’t like spending 12-hours a day running ragged trying to keep up with you.
Atrophy is easy to spot, yet easy to ignore. Your contracted IT guy was good and he’s a nice guy. That isn’t enough anymore because you have bigger needs. The “rubber band” that tethers you to him will snap eventually, I suggest getting ahead of it before something catastrophic happens.
Whether you’re working with a contracted IT guy, a small IT firm, or a large IT company, treat your IT support team as a member of your team, not just a vendor – talk to them, inform them of your expectations and what you’re seeing. Communicate your vision for growth and have them scale with you. If your IT can not support you anymore, it is time to move on.