You might be wondering why this Blog isn't about the current trend in cloud services or email filtering............... but in my opinion, IT services are purchased on the basis of trust. I agree that it does include a number of other factors, but in the SME space where the relationship is often between an IT professional and an Owner Manager (OM), trust is one of the most important factors.
I have held this view for a while and it often presents itself, in my head at least, during conversations where I am speaking to the OM about security, or staff access or similar sensitive matters. We often have conversations which involve a need to ensure staff cannot access 'x' or are limited in their viewing of 'y' and the OM feels reassured that I and the Abussi team are making sure all is secure.
What is never discussed is the fact that we (Abussi) have access to everything............. not just the server, but all of its data, all email (past and present) all documents and much of the companies financial information. We take this responsibility very seriously and have processes in place (internally) to ensure access to this information is strictly monitored. The fact that the OM never raises this to me, or questions Abussi's access to their data shows that they trust our approach.
Trust can also be a factor in the advice provided by an IT professional. An example can be found from a meeting I had this week with a prospective client in which they said ".. you know..... we can't put our finger on anything specific, but we just get the feeling that something is not quite right..". Its a very broad statement and a difficult one to isolate in terms of IT needs, but in essence they were expressing a feeling of 'Lost Trust' with the current IT provider. Once this is lost then its almost impossible to get back and the relationship is likely to fail............ and dealing with an outgoing IT provider to ensure business continuity is perhaps the subject of a future Blog !
In summary, make sure you ask some important questions about your IT provider. How long have they traded ? Can they provide references? Would it be possible to visit one of your existing clients to talk directly or as a minimum have the telephone number of your clients OM ?
In order to ensure your IT systems can be trusted to be reliable........... make sure you trust your IT provider from the start.