Last week I spent several hours on the phone with a product vendor discussing a problem with a client’s network and some possible causes and cures. It became abundantly clear during our marathon conversations that the vendor was not well versed at troubleshooting issues on a production environment (a network in use by users). The vendors analysis was limited and they wanted to just start trying different strategies to try to fix the problem, even if that fix broke other things on the network.
After resolving the client’s problem, minus the bad advice from the product vendor I sat at my desk, writing up my post-mortem and logged my notes on the incident. I began to think about similar incidents, not in relation to the client’s problem, but more about the occasions where we’ve had to involve a product vendor. In doing so, a pattern began to merge and an awareness hit me.
IT Vendors, either hardware or software really do not understand a customers environment, nor do they really care to. They are more concerned about getting you off the phone, shutting you up so you don’t bad mouth their products and in the process hopefully they can get their product functional again. Their only concern is that their product works.
In realizing this I began to think about the role both the IT vendor and consultant take.
IT Consultant’s – are typically well-trained companies or individuals in general and specialized IT topics, from desktops, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, software, hardware, mobile devices and laundry list of other topics. IT Consultants usually take the time to understand their clients environment in detail and research how each product interacts with the others. Some environments are easier than others but none-the-less it is important for the consultant to understand the inter-workings of such things. As a rule, here at Raven IT Consulting and Raven Cloud Computing, we frequently conduct a technical assessment with our clients to understand their environment before we make recommendations.
IT Vendor’s – in most cases have sold their product to you and the relationship ends their, expect for the possible warranty, maintenance and the occasional up sell. The IT Vendor does not want to know more about you or your environment unless they can market additional products to you. It you call their support or tech line, their sole purpose is to get their product working again as fast as they can. In doing this, often times other items cease to function on your network.
I am amazed at some of the suggestions IT vendors have made to customers. During this particular call, the IT vendor had asked the customer to remove and shutoff their firewall. For those of you who do not know what a firewall is – it is the CRITICAL component that keeps unwanted people from accessing your network and gaining access to all of your data. This specific customer just happens to be a retail store and they have customer personal and credit card information on their network. I am sure I do not need to explain the catastrophic result of doing this.
So this brings up many questions regarding vendor management. Who should manage them? What role does your IT consultant and/or IT staff play? When should you ever take the advice of an IT vendor who has not taken the time to learn your environment, in detail?
So – have you had similar encounters? If so, please comment below, I would like to hear what others have to say on this topic.
If you would like, we provide a Free Technical Assessment, this can be beneficial to new and startup companies that are not sure where to start.