Outsourcing important IT tasks to domain experts and specialist teams can provide great value for a growing company. However, it’s also unfortunately uncommon for IT vendors to fail to deliver on agreed-upon standards, costing companies even more money over time.
When IT procurement suffers a dip in quality, your business's forward market momentum can take an unexpected hit.
Vendor Types and Expectations
Not all IT vendors are made equal. And although issues can arise with every type of outsourcing partner, it can be helpful to factor in the kind of partner you’re working with when deciding on a corrective course of action. Here are the main categories most companies are likely to encounter:
Resellers and Managed Service Providers
Where resellers of IT services are concerned, the actual services or products they’re providing are outside of their immediate control. Though many resellers offer expertise in the configuration and maintenance of such products, the products themselves aren’t necessarily alterable.
Managed service providers go a little further in this arena by providing clear-cut solutions with predictable price points. These services are managed in-house by the provider as well, as opposed to the reseller's third-party offerings.
Professional Service Providers and Consultants
IT consultants typically work (and bill) by the hour or project, providing specialized services to both large and small organizations alike.
Professional service providers overlap quite a bit with general consultants and outsourcing partners in that they’re usually hired by companies to help with specific projects in a more flexible manner than resellers and managed service providers can accommodate. However, professional service providers may be more narrowly skilled than their outsourcing counterparts, contributing only to the specific project facets they have experience dealing with.
7 Common Symptoms of a Vendor Missing the Mark
When your IT vendor lets you down, it may be a one-time occurrence. In this case, it may be best to continue partnering with them - especially if the issue was resolved quickly and competently.
If, however, the issues you’re experiencing with your chosen IT vendor are becoming regular occurrences, it may be time to move on to new partnerships to avoid poor vendor relationships from negatively impacting your overall performance.
Here are a few common symptoms of growing rifts between your business and your IT service provider that deserve your attention:
Symptom #1: Missed or Moving Deadlines
If deadlines with your vendor of choice have become moving targets that are missed more often than not, there’s likely a deeper problem causing the issue that no amount of calls or meetings is going to resolve.
Symptom #2: Too Many Yes's and No No's
So-called "yes" men can inspire blind confidence in business leaders inexperienced with the consequence of dealing with such behavior over the long-term. If all you’re getting from an outsourcing partner in response to your requests and demands are affirmative answers, they may be overpromising on deliverables.
Symptom #3: Price Hikes
A bit of price movement, especially quarterly and yearly increases, should be expected of any reputable vendor. Reasonable price hikes are a normal part of working with outsourcing partners; as the costs of doing business change, your vendors’ pricing must also change to accommodate higher expenses.
However, arbitrary price boosts could signal internal challenges if you haven’t requested additional services. If excessive raises have begun to test the boundaries of your business's budget, it may be time to reexamine your options and consider alternatives.
Symptom #4: Faulty Communication
Attitude ranks high here, as vendors can undergo staffing changes that produce unfavorable working conditions and lead to irritable points of contact (or worse).
Another sign that communication quality may be dwindling is the frequency of unsolicited feedback you receive from your vendor. Follow-ups are good; a complete lack thereof could be bad. Updates on the status of ongoing projects should be provided willingly and as reasonably often as is appropriately.
Lastly, consider whether your chosen vendors have ever questioned your needs. Questions are usually a positive sign that your vendor is paying attention to your projects. If a vendor never asks questions, they may not have all of the information required to accommodate your needs.
Symptom #5: Zero Flexibility
Where it comes to your needs and most stringent requirements, a high-quality IT vendor should be reasonably flexible in the way they decide to structure their services. A lack of willingness to accommodate you in an acceptable manner may signal the need for different vendors.
Symptom #6: Vendor Lock-In
When vendors become more concerned with locking your company into their ecosystem than delivering on your expectations, it may be time to shift to new providers.
Whether you’re dealing with a vendor's unfavorable contract conditions or rigid technological provisions that resist interaction with the rest of your business's systems, lock-in can affect your bottom line in very clear and harmful ways.
Symptom #7: No Bigger Picture Perspective
If your organization is dealing with one or more highly specific IT vendors whose responsibilities are centered on key elements of a larger technological system, then it’s imperative that they be capable of sensing how their contributions fit into the bigger picture.
The seven symptoms covered above provide a simple, yet effective means of gauging whether or not a change in IT vendor may be necessary. Not all of these symptoms need to happen at once for a shift to be warranted; only you can make the final call regarding whether it’s worth continuing with a specific vendor or moving on to a new option.
If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms and want to explore the value a new IT partner could bring to the table, reach out to the Simpat team for a no obligation review of your current project’s requirements.