Can you trust your IT supplier?

By: Craig Sharp

Date: 6 June 2012

Trusting your IT supplier - locked components{{}}If you were to list all your company’s suppliers in order of importance to the success of your business, there’s a good chance your IT supplier would be near the top. With IT playing a part in virtually every aspect of most companies, you need an IT supplier you know will be there when you need them. So, how do you find that key business partner?

In my opinion, IT services are purchased on the basis of trust. Sure, there are lots of other factors involved, but for smaller businesses the relationship is often between an IT professional and the company’s owner-manager. Establishing trust in that relationship is crucial.

I have held this view for a while and it often crops up when I am speaking to owner-managers about IT security, staff access or other sensitive matters. I’m often involved in conversations where the owner-manager is keen to ensure that staff can’t access ‘x’ or are limited in their viewing of ‘y’.

The only way a business owner will feel reassured in that sort of conversation is if they trust me as their IT supplier.

Your IT supplier can access everything

But the one thing that’s never discussed is that we have access to absolutely everything. Not just a company’s server, but all its data, all its email (past and present), every single document and probably a lot of the company’s financial data too.

Like all responsible IT suppliers, we take this very seriously. And like every responsible IT supplier, we have processes in place to ensure that access to clients’ data is strictly monitored.

Trusting advice from your IT supplier

Trust is also a factor in the advice you get from an IT professional. It’s not unusual for businesses to come to use with a very general description of a problem:

 “We can’t put our finger on anything specific, but we just get the feeling that something is not quite right...

That’s a very broad statement and really difficult to isolate in terms of IT needs. But what that client often means is that they feel they’ve lost trust with their current IT provider. And once you’ve lost it, it’s almost impossible to get back.

In summary, ask some important questions of your IT provider to establish trust right at the start of your relationship. How long have they traded? Can they provide references? Can you talk to one of their existing clients?

Because for your business to have reliable IT systems that you can place trust in, you also need to place trust in your IT supplier – from day one.

Craig Sharp is MD of Abussi.

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