There are many amazing nonprofit and not-for-profit organizations who provide services for the community. Many of them have a nice influx of donations and can afford to do things the right way, due to the support they receive. This blog is not addressed to them; I want to talk to and about those organizations who help our children and underserved communities, and are always struggling to find the funds to get the technology they need to carry out their missions.
Over the last few years, I have been honored to be able to bring on a number of organizations who have had horrible experiences with technology providers. Most of them have been very gun shy about looking for a new support team.
In too many of these situations, what I find is that the previous support company had been providing subpar service. The story is much the same for many of them. Although their previous IT provider offers cheap rates, they are often unavailable, take days to accomplish simple tasks, and end up doing the same repair over and over again. Then, to top it off, charged for the same services over and over again. When asked why things took so long or what the issue was, the “IT guy” would get defensive, spout technobabble and remind the client they were giving them a big discounted rate. Yeah… About that.
Invariably, the client gets fed up and starts shopping around. Enter Mirazon, often from a referral from someone who experienced the same issues.
We provide discounts to nonprofits as well. It’s part of the way we give back to those who give so much. My first few meetings are to find out what has their service been like. What issues have they been having? Why are they shopping for new support?
Then, we go to work. Working with the team, we review the environment, examining not only what equipment is in place, but also how the internal network is set up: backups, users, file shares, firewall configurations, and more.
Next, we review hardware, including warranties and invoices for purchased items. We look at the quality of the items purchased. (Did you know that cheap equipment costs many times more than what you paid for it in lost productivity?) Finally, we look at software purchases and renewals.
Typically, by the time I finish compiling all of the information, I’m not only saddened at the way the client has been treated and supported, but I’m angry as well. It’s common to find they have been overcharged for items they purchased, and were often sold items they did not need, as invoices for work performed would be vague. Recently, I found out that one such client was sold a software product at literally double the retail price.
When we finish, we provide a comprehensive report to the client listing the issues we found and detailing what our proposed plan is to address them. As part of this discussion, we help develop long term plans and goals. Mirazon does not want to just come in and fix the problems and go away. We want to be your trusted team forever. Keeping that trust is how we do it.
Here are my must haves when you are looking for an IT provider.
The IT Service Provider must:
- Supply clear pricing (in writing) on what their services cost.
- Provide detailed billing information for all work performed.
- For purchases, provide detailed descriptions of items being sold (I’m okay if you shop my pricing).
- When recommending hardware, software, and/or services, the provider must provide justification for what they are offering.
As a nonprofit, you should always:
- Ask questions. Do I need this? How will this benefit us? What is the life expectancy of the product?
- Are there renewal costs associated? What are they?
- What will be the cost of installation?
- Is there charity pricing available?
- If I (the nonprofit) order it, can I save anything?
- Have copies of any passwords created.
- Receive access to any accounts created, such as web hosting, i.e. hosting providers like GoDaddy and Software accounts such as Microsoft licensing.