by Thomas Kinsinger
Director of Technology, E-N Computers
20+ years experience in enterprise IT and managed services.
We’ve been in the IT support business more than 25 years, and in that time, we’ve gotten a lot of similar questions about reasons not to work with E-N Computers – or not work with any IT managed service provider for that matter.
Truthfully, a lot of potential clients are nervous. They take months to decide whether to sign on with an MSP. And for good reason. A bad fit with the wrong MSP can get you stuck in a contract, cost you lost time and disrupt your business goals.
Companies are quick to provide reasons why you should work with them. But if we aren’t the right fit, it’s better to know up front, and the best way to know that is to consider all possible negatives.
So here are the questions and reasons you might have for not working with us. Because sometimes not working with us is the right answer.
What are some problems with IT managed service providers?
An IT MSP may not be located near you for onsite support, lack accountability, stick you with a long contract, fail to properly scope projects, and blame others when things go wrong
One of the first questions that people often ask when thinking about hiring or outsourcing IT is where are you located?
For us, the answer might be “far away from you.”
E-N Computers is a regional MSP with its corporate headquarters in Waynesboro, Virginia, which is just outside of Richmond, Virginia. Our “local” support extends throughout the state of Virginia and Washington D.C. But we provide remote IT services nationwide.
Remote Support Tools
We can offer remote support because we use a suite of tools for monitoring and managing computers and servers, and we use cloud-based network solutions such as Cisco Meraki.
During COVID-19, we all learned that most jobs can be done remotely. That includes IT support. If a percentage of your workforce is remote anyway, then you are forced to support them remotely. If a few can be supported remotely, then why not all? We found that 99% of IT support can be done remotely and it can lead to quicker response times (because we have multiple people staffing our help desk) and can save costly onsite visits.
If you don’t like or don’t want to use remote support tools and your business isn’t in Virginia, service from us probably isn’t a good choice.
Scheduled Onsite Support
While most IT tasks can be done remotely, we recognize there are still times when a type of work requires a person to be onsite. For this reason, we outlined what we find are the best options for a combination of remote and onsite support for organizations.
- Organizations that are a 100% remote work force and 100% cloud-based infrastructure generally receive 100% remote IT support. This means that each user will need to help IT support with basic troubleshooting of their home network. At ENC, we also partner with a network of field technicians and engineer contractors that we can dispatch if someone is needed onsite.
- Organizations that have a small office of 10-30 users or computers are recommended to have a tech or engineer come onsite two to four times a year. This is for small projects like hardware installation and proactive documentation and maintenance.
- Organizations that have 30 to 75 users or computers are recommended to have one to four engineer or technician onsite visits per month. Again, this is for small projects like hardware installation and proactive documentation and maintenance.
- Organizations that have greater than 75 computers or users are recommended to use co-managed IT services. This means they hire or allow us to hire one onsite IT person. This can be done by ENC acting as the staffing agency supplying full-time staff, or we can help your organization make a hire. The onsite person is often responsible for the user helpdesk or takes more of a business analyst role to ensure you’re getting the most out of your systems. E-N Computers will often focus on level 3 support and IT strategies and planning.
The above examples are what we define as “prescheduled proactive” onsite support. But what about real emergencies?
Emergency Onsite Support
We have found that generally when IT and systems are being looked after correctly, emergencies don’t happen very often. With the right systems in place, emergencies are typically resolved quickly by our remote helpdesk. Our helpdesk can probably help you faster than having a lone local IT person physically rushing to your site to resolve an issue.
For more pros and cons with response times and outsourced IT support, see our related article Disadvantages of Outsourced IT Support.
If you experience a lot of emergency issues, this can be a sign that IT is not getting looked after as it should be. During our discovery process for considering new customers, we take the time to understand your IT pain and frustration, and out of that we develop an IT roadmap and recommendations to bring peace of mind.
However, it may be that you are not in the state of Virginia, and you feel the need to have a designated technician physically on site more often even though you have a smaller size office. In that case we may not be the best service for you. We could provide this, but it likely would not be cost effective for you.
Being stuck in a long contract
Often organizations have gotten tied into MSP contracts that put them in bad spot. This often happens with auto renewals. Or maybe the arrangement worked great for a while, but the MSP had staff turnover and it’s not what it once was. You might find yourself one year into a three-year contract that requires a significant cost to get out of. We know your pain and we don’t like being locked into bad agreements either.
Because of this, our contract model is to guarantee your contract pricing for one year and to allow you to cancel the agreement at any time with a 30-day notice. So, if long contracts have you worried, we might be a good choice. If you’re currently stuck in a long bad contract, talk to us anyway. We may be able to help.
You might also want to read our article on how to end an IT MSP contract.
Feeling ‘held hostage’ to a vendor
Sometimes businesses feel that working with outsourced IT puts them at a disadvantage because they have to share critical business information with an “outsider.” They don’t want someone managing their files, or they feel their business processes are too unique to be understood by a third party.
These are all legitimate concerns. A bad IT support vendor can do a great deal of damage. But the alternative can also go badly – the alternative being to only work with employees. A bad IT employee can also do damage.
Working with a vendor forces a certain level of accountability and transparency. Employees don’t generally carry liability insurance, you don’t usually sue a bad employee, and you don’t usually sign a specific technical contract with an employee. But a contractor does have insurance and can be sued and does sign a contract.
Since we work as a team, we must document more than an employee would, and we are going to share that documentation. A single employee could keep everything in his head. We bring accountability tools to the table like a ticketing system. You would have to provide a ticketing system at a cost for an individual employee.
Regardless, we know that it’s often easier to feel a bond of trust with an employee than with a company, at least initially. We try to be as transparent as possible about our processes and philosophy, and we share detailed information about both on our blog for just that reason. But we can’t change what we are – a third-party IT vendor. If this makes you uncomfortable, we probably aren’t the service for you.
“There’s no checklist you can follow and no software you can use that can solve the issue of pointing fingers. It comes from the personality of the team or person you are working with.”
Accountability is critical with IT. Over the years we’ve seen organizations end up in very bad places because of a lack of accountability. This can happen with an internal IT person or team, and it can happen with an external person or team.
In IT, accountability issues tend to happen between the executive team and the IT department. The executive team has business goals, and the IT team tries to execute the technical part of those goals. But there’s a gap.
Let’s use a fictious example to illustrate the issue. Your company executives have decided to change their accounting platform from QuickBooks to Sage. They heard a sales rep explain Sage, they liked the sound of it and decided to switch. They tell IT, who looks at Sage’s website and figures out the technical specifications. IT buys and installs a server. But who is responsible for migrating the data from the old platform to the new one? What will the users experience when the platform is switched? Who was responsible for doing due diligence in researching this and comparable platforms? No one can answer these questions, so the server and software sit unused for months. The executive team is angry that an expensive product isn’t being used, and IT says it’s not their fault. Who is accountable for this?
The answer is no one because this is both a business issue and an IT issue. The executive team needs pushback, and the IT team is just thinking about the tech, not the business goal.
We solve this by building a team of experts in both business and IT. We provide you with technical account managers and business account managers who work in between the tech team and executive team. They don’t just install servers. They are responsible for budgeting, strategy and meeting your business goals.
We strive to make accountability easy by providing a system that defines industry best practices and where we and your organization may be falling short of those standards. We see accountability as a two-way street. You need to hold us accountable for the things we promise, and we need to hold you accountable to evolve with best practices in IT.
So how does this happen?
In a word – meetings. We meet with your executive team regularly and ask if your expectations are being met.
We expect healthy dialog and even conflict at times to keep IT moving forward. There should be engagement and interaction from the executive team members. For us to meet your expectations, it’s crucial for us to understand the goals and objectives of the executive leadership.
Could you work out the accountability gap without us? Yes. And we are happy to work with whatever internal liaison you have. But most small businesses don’t have the staff to fill that “gap” role quite yet.
If you’re not worried about the gap between IT and business, we may not be the best MSP for you.
The earlier accountability section leads into the next concern that people often have – the issue of failed projects.
This is probably one of the greatest complaints that we hear from prospective customers, and this happens with both internal IT and outsourced IT. So why does it happen?
As mentioned before, there is often a gap between the business executive team’s goals and the IT department and technology. When it comes to projects, one of the biggest issues is the need to slow down and go through a discovery process. This is where we compare various products and solutions and look at your overall budget. We start with a clear scope of work.
Over the years we’ve seen even simple projects really go off the rails and cause a lot of frustration – things like setting up a process for adding a new user or terminating a user. This is a problem of expectations not being clearly set. Clarity is kind. At ENC we are human beings; we are not mind readers and we are not always perfect. So, we have to ask a lot of questions.
Typical projects are cloud migrations, email migrations, hardware upgrades and network upgrades. To see an example of how we scope a specific project, see our related blog post What to Know When Replacing Your Network Firewall.
If taking the time to thoroughly scope a project is frustrating to you, we probably should not work on your project.
Playing the Blame Game
This leads to another major concern that we often hear from people. IT has become increasingly complex. Whether it’s the internet service, the email service, the VoIP service, the security and alarm services – all these solutions require integration with IT from many different vendors. This can lead to ownerless blame shifting.
There’s no checklist you can follow and no software you can use that can solve the issue of pointing fingers. It comes from the personality of the team or person you are working with.
We do struggle with this. It’s especially hard not to point fingers during the stressful heat of a situation, or when you know the issue isn’t your fault. At E-N one of our core focuses is to solve business problems. This means that we want to own the problems and help with managing issues though to resolution in a timely way no matter who is at fault. If there’s a network issue and the internet service provider says it’s not their fault, and we look at the network on our side and see that nothing is wrong, we are going to pick up the phone and call the ISP and troubleshoot that to the end.
IT folks can come across as a little arrogant and overconfident, and we want to have a team that is not like that. So, we hire for it. Our interview process is not just about technical ability. We are looking for humble people. You can read about our interview process. Our values are made known before someone even applies for a job. This video is part of our job openings page. Again, we may not always execute this perfectly, but it is a core focus.
On the other hand, if you happen to like finger pointing, we probably aren’t going to enjoy working with each other.
These are the most common concerns we hear from potential clients, some of which we can answer and some of which we can’t. We aren’t the best solution for everyone, but for a certain group of businesses, we can be a far better solution than they may have considered previously.
If your concern has not been addressed, we’d like to hear about it. If you have more questions, let’s schedule a meeting.
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215 Fifth St.
Waynesboro, VA 22980
1126 11th ST. NW
Washington, DC 20001-4366
VA DCJS # 11-6604
45 Newman Ave.
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
3026A W. Cary St.
Richmond, VA 23221