SME businesses across all industries need to know that not all IT-as-a-Service providers are created equal!  Your company may outgrow them and they may struggle to keep up with all your needs. They may outgrow you and are no longer as responsive to your needs or worse, they aren’t keeping up with the latest technology and are putting your organization at risk.

If you have a provider today you should ask yourself 3 important questions.

When do you hear from your provider?
Do they only show up when it is time to renew the term?  Is it only in a reactive state after something has gone awry? Do they proactively bring unknown information to your attention before an issue occurs?

Are they a tactical or a strategic partner to your business?
Do they provide short term fixes to tactical needs or are they proactively providing detail around innovations that could help the long term strategic growth of the organization?  Do they align their conversations to the business goals?  Do they put a focus on planning ahead or patching issues?

Have they assisted or aligned their offerings to your IT Road Map?
Do they want to help you plan or are they taking orders without understanding the end goal or desired end result of those plans?  If you don’t have an IT Road Map, which isn’t uncommon, have they offered to create one with you?

IT-as-a-Service providers allow their clients to receive, or offer, a greater level of support or service, while offloading many of the IT management duties to a 3rd party.  For example, a standard provider will allow you access to a data center, networks and servers through a remote management tool.  But the quality of provider starts to change as their offerings expand.

Providers started to set themselves apart by offering services that help with data storage, disaster recovery, network monitoring, enhanced security, front line technical support and capacity management.  If these norms are not provided with your current provider and are a concern to the person in charge of your IT Strategy or Operations, then you need to consider a move to the next level of provider.

Top tier providers are also offering solutions that include data backups, firewalls, load balancing, intrusion detection and scans that detect points of vulnerability.  With the increased usage of technology solutions using open source for development and the number of organizations collecting a huge amounts of data, the ability to scale and effectively protect that information is becoming a financial burden to many organizations, thus increasing their risk levels.

IT-as-a-Service providers are essential to growing SME organizations because they allow for a greater sense of flexibility, scalability and risk mitigation.  In addition, the best providers are aligning their offerings to the business drivers of your company, whether that goal is to improve IT applications and infrastructure, improving efficiency or reducing enterprise costs.

The commoditization of IT is happening and those that are embracing it are gaining the immediate benefits of offloading the grunt work of their IT staff to someone else and allowing their IT department to be a strategic division of the company.  IT-as-a-Service can be a game changer for your company but if the decision to adopt an inferior provider can put your organization in a scenario of higher risk, instead of the desired business improvement that was initially targeted.

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