Written by Brian Markham
We all “know an IT guy.” He is the friend of a friend or the cousin of a cousin. He has been “doing IT” for years. Your sister uses him; so does your barber. He is a great guy. We all know the IT guy.
In my work in IT, I have met dozens of these guys — one-man shops set up in a garage or basement. When you need him, you don’t have to open a ticket; you just shoot him a text or a PM on Facebook. When he’s done, you don’t get an invoice; you just Venmo him. Yes, we know that guy too. He is the IT guy. And he has some skills, some experience.
And he may really be a good guy. But he is one guy. Where is he going to be when your server crashes in the middle of the night, or your network goes down at the height of the workday, or even if you just need your password reset… right now. On vacation? Out sick? Onsite with another client whom he must prioritize because she is a friend of his mom? Moreover, what’s he going to do when you are breached? Does he have the bandwidth, the resources, the expertise or the workforce to manage the aftermath of cyberattack? Is he keeping up with the threats? Is he watching trends and keeping up with the latest solutions? Not likely.
If you’re a one-man shop yourself, the IT guy might be right for you. Afterall, his dad plays golf with your dad. He knows you, he cares about you, and he’s local. And we like to work with people we like. However, most organizations should think twice before entrusting their business, their livelihood, and their data to just one professional. While it is comforting to have strong relationships with your partners, your IT network is your business’s lifeblood. Relying on the care, knowledge, vigilance, and expertise of just one person may prove costly and have long term repercussions.
Further, there is a dark side to a small posse of IT Technicians. Not all, not even most. But in my business, I’ve seen it too often. Here is my latest cautionary tale: We recently onboarded a wonderful new client. A local, family-owned small business, who prides itself on making business personal — exceptional craftsmanship, highly attentive service, second generation owner. Great guy, good team of people. The kind of people we all love doing business with. We’ll call the owner Ed. Ed had been using his IT guy for years. We’ll call him Paul. Ed thought he and Paul had developed a trusted partnership. But in recent months, the relationship began to sour. Paul stopped answering calls, would go MIA for weeks at a time, and became barely reachable when an immediate fix was required. Invoices were sent for services not rendered, and Ed began to wonder, when it comes to security, who is watching the shop?
Things quickly deteriorated when Ed realized he needed to change providers. His guy, Paul, who controlled all the passwords and administration for Ed’s network, refused to release the credentials Ed and his new IT provider needed to rescue Ed’s now-hostage business. The impact on operations, customer service, and revenue stream nearly brought Ed’s business to a screeching halt.
But all was not lost! Luckily for Ed, he found a local, professional team of 30 technicians, administrators, and client support staff whose collective knowledge and experience were no match for the likes of Paul. The staff are experts — skilled, dedicated professionals who work collectively and collaboratively to ensure that nothing gets between their clients and their clients’ vision for their business. And that includes guys like Paul. This team knows what partnership means. They planted themselves squarely in Ed’s corner and never, never abandoned their post. And yes, they rescued Ed and his network. Despite all the obstacles and one villainous foe, Ed’s new Client Development Specialist, supported by a team of engineers and security experts successfully and seamlessly on-boarded and secured Ed’s business. The small local business that Ed’s father started over 40 years ago now rests peacefully and safely in their care where it will be nurtured and protected by a team that not only cares but delivers.
If your business relies on the effectiveness and security of your network (and whose doesn’t?), entrust it only the kind of professionals who are up for the task. Do your homework, interview IT companies through the lens of entrepreneurs like Ed. Find your true partner by asking the tough questions about exactly who will be there for you and what they bring to the table. Guys like Paul do not have what it takes to protect and grow your business. It takes a team!
|Brian Markham recently joined Southridge Technology as a Business Development Specialist at its headquarters in Brookfield, CT. After spending many years in the IT Recruiting world, he is excited to be part of such a vibrant and impactful organization. Brian has deep roots in Connecticut, and his other passion is coaching a children’s special needs baseball team. He resides in Fairfield with his wife and 3 teenagers.|