Techie translation: What your IT provider says and what they actually mean

What they say – “It can’t be done.”

What they mean – “I have no idea how or why you would want to do that, so the answer is no.”

When dealing with a smaller IT provider, it’s hardly surprising that there are limits to their knowledge – but instead of promising to investigate your request you receive a flat refusal, potentially holding your business back and ensuring you cannot make the best use of newer technologies. The reality is that almost anything can be accomplished these days. The only limit is your budget and your IT provider’s knowledge.

What they say – “You have to upgrade.”

What they mean – “I haven’t seen one of these in years. And I’m blowed if I’m going to hunt down the manuals for it either. Especially if I can make a few quid out of your upgrade.”

New technologies almost always offer improvements and cost savings. But sometimes your older equipment or software is essential to fulfill a core business function. There are often ways of using what you already have more efficiently, but if your provider is motivated by fees from vendors for new sales, they aren’t likely to be interested in helping you recognise them.

WARNING: Just because a provider recommends an upgrade does not mean they are simply “in it for the money”. Older computer systems cost more to maintain and run than newer equivalents. Your teams should also become more efficient with up-to-date technology helping to reduce costs in the long term.

What they say – “Insufficient bandwidth – nothing to do with us, guv.”

What they mean – “It’s definitely a network speed issue, so I assume it must be your broadband provider’s fault.”

Network speed issues are often completely subjective – what your users think is “slow” may actually be the best that your network can handle. Without proper investigation of network conditions though, it is impossible to accurately diagnose faults. You would also hope that your IT provider could help liaise with your broadband provider to get the issue fixed anyway.

What can you do?

Sometimes your IT provider may be trying to avoid a technical conversation for fear of overwhelming you. Other times they may simply be covering their own ignorance. Either way, your business is in trouble if you cannot get the answers and the improvements you need to improve efficiency and cut costs.

Part of the trick to cutting through tech speak is to brush up on the basics before engaging engineers and account managers in conversation. This guide should already have given you a few tips, allowing you to prepare for those all-important techie conversations in advance.

If you cannot reach a satisfactory level of understanding with your current provider, the only solution is to look for one with whom you can.

Key actions

  • Even if you think you can trust your IT provider to give informed advice, always give them time to properly formulate an answer – otherwise it will always be ‘no’;
  • Upgrading may or may not resolve your IT issues – always check the provider’s motivations for recommending it first;
  • Choose a provider that offers a complete IT-as-a-Service solution, not just the productivity suite; and
  • Networking problems are troublesome to sort out – that’s why you pay an IT provider to do it for you. Make sure they do.
Written by Danny Walker from IT FARM.

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