Things to Consider if You’re a Business Using a Micro IT Provider

Like many small businesses, you’ve likely started out using a friend or family member, individual contractor, micro-sized IT provider, or depended on your own skills to help setup and support your IT systems.

As you’ve grown, so have your IT needs. 

You may have experienced or are currently experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Slow response times from your IT support contact(s).
  • Unnecessary recurring IT issues.
  • A messy IT closet or server room that looks like a bomb went off inside it.
  • Solutions from your IT provider that feel home-grown, temporary, or jerry-rigged.
  • Long delays when requesting quotes from your IT provider on things out of their comfort zone.
  • Using outdated operating systems and computers past their end of life.
  • Not feeling confident that your cyber-security needs are being met.
  • Billing that is unorganized and impossible to understand.
  • Requested a file restore but it took forever or it wasn’t 100% restored due to the backup system not having been configured properly.

These are all signs that you’ve outgrown your current IT provider. If you’re like many of the prospective businesses that we meet with, you’re using an individual or micro-sized IT provider comprised of a handful of employees and/or contractors.

Here are some lesser known risks when dealing with a micro IT provider or individual contractor:

  • They may not be up to date on current cyber-security trends and solutions. Staying current and testing security solutions is a full time job by itself. Larger firms will typically have the resources to commit to cyber-security research, training, and constant vetting of solutions.
  • Technical skill stagnation. It’s nearly impossible for micro IT companies to afford the training and time investment required to keep technical staff up to date with trends, solutions, and certifications. As an IT provider scales, this becomes possible as the technical team grows in numbers and the provider invests in training.
  • They may not have any sort of liability, errors & emissions, or cyber-security insurance. If they are hacked or cause harm to your business, this is a huge risk to you. In 2019, IT companies are being targeted by cyber-criminals now more than ever. Your IT provider should be able to provide proof that they have these types of insurances.
  • More likely than not, they don’t have a physical business location. While this isn’t a deal breaker for modern businesses in the 21st century; consider the following if your IT provider works from their home(s):
    • If you deal with protected information, you need to know how they protect it with remote technical employees. When an IT company has a physical location, they own the computers and secure the networks they live on. In our experience, regulating and applying strict security controls are best implemented when technical employees are sitting in a secured office.
    • Vendors, distributors, insurance carriers, and banks typically want a business location as a sign of financial stability. Leases usually require financial vetting, personal guarantees, and a significant time commitment.
      If you’re looking for an IT provider to partner with, and if your business uses IT systems to generate revenue, their financial stability should be a factor to consider and having a business location is an easy way to prove they’re on solid ground.
  • If the primary tech or owner is incapacitated, what happens to their clients? The smaller the provider, the bigger the risk. If you rely on IT systems to generate revenue, this is a critical topic that needs to be addressed. Larger IT providers are more likely to have procedures and centralized documentation so that the loss of no one person can affect a client in this manner. 
  • Tendency to setup short term solutions that may of worked for them in the past, but have no place in business.
    Here are some scary real world examples we’ve run into:

    • Custom-built PCs with home-grade equipment used in critical roles.
    • Free Gmail accounts in the business. 
    • Pirated software sourced by the IT guy.
    • Bitcoin mining software running on the client’s server.
    • Nonprofessional backup solution that have not actually been working for 6 months.
    • Windows Server not fully setup to be a domain, with clients configured as a peer-to-peer network.
    • Network equipment hanging on for its life by its network cables.
    • Using an 8 year old desktop to host critical file shares.

As you can see, it’s important to assess the risks of doing business with micro providers and individuals offering IT services. Reach out to us if you would like to discuss your situation.

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