Vendor relationships are some of the most important relationships that your company has – perhaps even as important as your relationships with your customers. A great vendor is a partner, one who understand your business and is able to provide insights and guidance to help you succeed, in addition to products and services. This is especially true when it comes to an IT provider.
While some vendor relationships last for decades, others aren’t quite so fruitful. There are some obvious signs that it’s time to move on to a new IT vendor, such as ongoing issues with the quality of products or services. However, there are also more subtle signs that the relationship is no longer working and it’s time to move on. If your company’s IT isn’t where you would like it to be, consider whether you are having any of these common issues with your vendor.
1. The Vendor Hasn’t Kept Up With Your Growth
When you first stared your business, your IT vendor was great. You got the advice you needed, the network architecture was perfect for your needs, and the service was great. But now, your company has grown, and you need a more advanced set-up, one that is in line with your current needs and will take you into the future. Unfortunately, your IT vendor hasn’t developed with you. If your vendor isn’t willing or able to discuss options for new sectors that you’re exploring, continues to offer solutions that don’t fit your needs, or isn’t able to customize tools and software for your company, then it’s likely time to move on. If you and your vendor are moving in different directions, the relationship is not going to benefit either of you.
2. Your Vendor Has Gotten Too Big
Perhaps it’s not your business that has gotten bigger and changed – perhaps it’s your IT vendor. If your key contacts continue to leave and you need to spend valuable time teaching them about your business – and their replacements don’t provide the level of service you’re used to – or the company’s direction doesn’t align with your company’s goals and priorities, you need to find a new vendor. You need to work with Cisco authorized distributors that understand your business, can make your business a priority, and doesn’t shuffle you around the company that’s become too large to provide personalized service.
3. Sales is the Priority, Not Service
Sales are important, no doubt. But do you feel like the level of service that you experienced during the sales process has declined since you signed on? Or do you feel like every time you speak with your account reps, you aren’t getting guidance and insight, but rather a sales pitch for the newest, greatest product? IT is a major investment, and the right vendor will understand your needs and focus on keeping you happy post-sale, not just selling more.
4. The Vendor Doesn’t Understand Your Industry
Excellent IT vendors will provide you with more than just equipment and services. They will offer a form of consulting services, ensuring that you have what you need to keep your business running smoothly and successfully. They can do this because they understand your industry, including trends, compliance issues, and growth prospects. If your vendor cannot offer these services, or seems to be completely out of step with your industry, you need to find a better fit.
5. User Experience is Declining
If your employees are constantly complaining about issues with your network or software, or finding ways to work around issues – or developing their own solutions to issues – then user experience is a problem. Your vendor should be willing to listen to the concerns, troubleshoot issues, and come up with solutions to improve the UX. If your vendor isn’t able to help, or just sticks to the same advice and instructions, there is a disconnect and your business could suffer.
6. Communication Breakdowns are Common
You call your account representative for help, and have to wait hours – or days – for a call back. Or, you call a helpdesk and spend hours on hold, and then several more hours working with a rep who can’t fix your problem. Or perhaps you provide a detailed description of your needs and wants, and your vendor continues to push a solution that you just know isn’t right, or is more expensive than you can afford. Ongoing communication issues can damage a relationship, not to mention leave you frustrated and unproductive, so if this is happening to you, it’s time to move on.
Ending a vendor relationship can be tricky, and it can create some costs for your business. However, the benefits of working with an IT company that really listens, provides great service, and works as a partner cannot be overstated, and it’s worth a few growing pains.