Can You Trust Your IT Advisor?

By Dan Ballard, in , posted: 30-Jul-2009 17:49

Is Your IT Advisor A Cowboy
This is an important question to ask, let me relate this story to you so you understand what I mean. 

A couple of months ago I meet up with the owner of a small consultancy company because they experienced data loss on their laptop.  I explained the best way to prevent this happening in the future is to go for an online automated backup solution, the cost was $49 to setup and $19 per month and the backup would happen every day as long as the laptop was connected to the internet.  I left them with my proposal. 

About a month after that, I get a call from this particular customer saying that they have lost their data again and that they would like assistance to get it back.  Upon further probing I found out that a friend of theirs that “knew some stuff about IT” had setup a hard drive that was meant to backup the laptops data on a regular basis.  Needless to say they were calling us because the laptop had failed again and their free/cheap backup did not work and their data was lost again.  After the second failure they decided to use the online automated backup solution that I suggested.  I estimate that these data failures cost the company upwards of over $5000 in lost time, money and effort.

The reason I relate this story to you is so I can ask you, who are you taking your IT advice from? 

IT in this day and age everything is done on computers, business systems, payroll, your accounting system and a large percentage of your communication with your customers through email is all part of your IT and Technology setup.  If you don’t have effective IT system and backups in place you are at a serious risk of losing time, data and possibly your entire business. See my article Is Your Business Data At Risk.  When you require advice about law you go and see a Lawyer, when you need advice about your tax and accounting you go and see an Accountant so it would make perfect sense that when you require advice about your IT and Technology, you would go and see a technology professional.

You will notice above that I used the term professional, I used this word specifically as not all people who are in IT are professional.  Let me give you two examples of what to look out for. 

The first one is your stereotypical IT technician, this is the sort of guy that knows a lot of stuff about really technical things and they are kind of like mechanics, they really like to tinker and try stuff out and generally wear scruffy clothes and still live at home with they are 30+.  They came onsite to setup your email signature and for some reason they are now part way through virtualizing your server.  These guys are interesting characters and generally have to be really well managed and quite often end up running their own one or two man break fix IT businesses.  If you watch IT crowd, think of Moss.

The other one is the opposite, this is your stereotypical IT sales guy, smooth with the girls and drives a sports car.  They are going to set you up with an ultra fast quadruple speed ADSL6+ connection and run multiple virtual VPNs with VoIP and video conferencing to the moon and then they are going to build you a business system that is going to half your expenses and double your profits.  Probably about a quarter of what these guys say is true and these type of guys prey on people and organisation that know very little about IT.

When looking for an IT professional to give you advice on your IT and Technology for your business or organisation you want someone that is down to earth, knows the technical stuff but also knows how to translate it to English.  They have to be up to date with the latest technologies and know how to deliver it to your business.  Most importantly they have to be able to give you good honest advice and know how to solve your IT problems before they happen.  When you find someone like this make sure you make them one of your trusted business advisers and involve them in every technology decision that you make.  Generally this caliber of IT professional is worth every cent that they charge.

Dan Ballard

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Comment by JasonDarwin, on 30-Jul-2009 20:29

And if you want a floorsanding professional only choose one who has a moisture meter and a copy of the relevant standard. You'll shortchange yourself if you don't.

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Dan Ballard
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