Every now and then I run into a large organization who is using a “friend” or “family member” for their technology. Every time I encounter this, I get a little worried for the company. Sometimes it’s great to use someone you know. But when it comes to your technology, it’s not necessarily a good thing. Why is that? Proper management of technology requires many different types of expertise, management tools and a team of support people with the know-how in order to make sure your organization’s technology is performing and set up the right way. But what happens when nepotism undermines your business’ technology innovation? Or worse, takes down your organization? Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t work with friends or family when it comes to business technology.
You need some very expensive tools to do the job right.
With most Managed Services providers bragging 99% uptime, many wonder how they can maintain such amazing statistics. The fact is that many Managed Services providers pay tens of thousands of dollars to have management tools in place to detect when there are network issues, e-mail issues or connection issues even before a user notices anything is wrong. As a result, many IT companies have engineers in a client’s network fixing issues that come up that never make it down to the user level. What happens when you don’t have that software? You wait for the problem to get down to the user level and then you work reactively.
When the $h!t hits the fan – what will it do to your relationship?
Most Managed Services relationships come with comprehensive Service Level Agreements that break down every element of the relationship from liability to data security to downtime – and as a result Managed Services providers typically have million or multi-million dollar liability insurance policies incase anything happens as a result of their negligence. But many times when you’re relying on a friend of a friend or a family member for technology guidance, they don’t have this in place. That means that when your backup fails or you lose data or your system is down – you have no recourse and just hope that they do the right thing. Having a provider that you can hold accountable and have a professional relationship with is crucial when something happens.
You need strategy, not reaction.
We’ve talked about it before. We no longer do the break-fix relationship. We have a strategy manager that essentially acts as a CIO and manages technology as our clients grow and innovate. You need someone to be there every time you grow and change out a piece of technology and that person needs to have extensive experience throughout your industry with companies of all sizes. A small company that is a family friend doesn’t have that kind of expertise.
You need organized, prompt support. Now, not in a few hours.
Managed Services companies have a team of support specialists that are tiered based on the user need and type of issue. Tickets are escalated accordingly and managed carefully through a central system for response time, timeliness of resolution and user satisfaction. Most “family friend” businesses don’t have this in place and have no idea what sort of support their users are getting, how the response time is or which issues are being resolved and escalated. You don’t have the capital to pay your users to hang out waiting for a call back on an issue.
The concept of giving business to a friend or family member is really nice. You’re supporting someone that you know and directly benefitting their organization. But you need to weigh those feel-good positives with the risk you’re assuming and the tools at their disposal. Are they qualified to offer you the extended strategy that you need to grow? How do they manage any user issues that arise? What are the details of the SLA? Is a cloud move on the horizon for you? How can they help you with business continuity and disaster recovery? Do you see how there are too many moving parts to rely on someone who isn’t doing it all the time or only does it with a company or two? You need someone that has processes in place to manage your technology and ensure that everything runs seamlessly. You need tools, a team, an agreement and a strategic resource, and that’s just the beginning. Reconsider your options when it comes to your business technology. You have far too much at stake to make this decision lightly.