When a client signs a contract with an IT provider, they want guarantees on the level of service and partnership they will receive. But are there problems an IT provider can't correct? Are there issues beyond even the most experienced providers?
As an IT provider, we've narrowed down four issues that providers cannot fix, regardless of their skill. They are:
- End of Life (EOL) hardware
- End of Service (EOS) software
- Hardware or software that is incompatible with your IT system
- Poor security practices
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of Chicago-area clients create effective IT strategies and use technology to reach their business goals.
By reading this article, you will learn the definitions of the four unfixable issues, why they matter, and possible solutions.
4 issues IT providers cannot fix
1. End of Life hardware
End of Life or EOL hardware is no longer supported by the manufacturer. Typically, this includes hardware that is five years old or older.
Typically, the manufacturer no longer makes compatible replacement or upgrade parts of EOL hardware.
An experienced IT provider will help maintain hardware for as long as possible and try to keep it running as smoothly as possible.
However, if the hardware is so old that it is no longer supported, it will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to fix. Additionally, it will become costly to maintain over time.
Why does this matter?
As parts for EOL hardware are removed from the market, IT providers and vendors have more difficulty finding new parts to repair the device. Often, this results in more time-consuming, complicated repairs and more significant expenses.
Not only do clients have to pay for new parts, but they must also pay for the time and labor it takes to repair the device. In fact, buying a new device often ends up being more affordable than repeatedly repairing the old device.
EOL hardware is also at a greater risk of failure. The older it becomes, the more likely it is to stop working suddenly. A crashed mission-critical device can halt all productivity until the device is replaced or repaired.
Older hardware also has increased difficulting in processing and utilizing newer, updated applications and software.
Solutions for EOL hardware
Unfortunately, the only solution to fix EOL hardware is to purchase new, current hardware.
During onboarding and quarterly risk assessments, your IT provider should identify aging, risky hardware and recommend possible solutions within your budget.
Your provider will help you draft a replacement plan outlining when the hardware will be replaced and an appropriate budget. This process is called Asset Lifecycle Management and is part of your IT Roadmap.
2. End of Service software
End of Service or EOS software is similar to EOL hardware because the manufacturer supports neither. In addition, EOS software no longer receives system updates to bolster its defenses against vulnerabilities or cybercriminals.
Why does this matter?
EOS software presents a substantial security risk due to its lack of security updates. In time, cybercriminals will find a weakness in the software code and exploit it.
Businesses using EOS software are at significant risk of cyberattacks like ransomware.
In addition, EOS software may be incompatible with newer devices, systems, or other applications.
They also become increasingly time-consuming, costly, and complicated to repair, if repair is even possible. Often, IT providers may take hours or days to attempt EOS software fixes that are ultimately unsuccessful.
Because IT providers are not the original creators of many service applications or software programs, they cannot edit the original coding. This drastically limits the provider's ability to "repair" the program or application.
For example, an IT provider may find an error in Microsoft Word or correct how it communicates with your system, but it cannot change the functionality of Word itself. Instead, the IT provider must contact Microsoft to solve the problem if the error is within Word's coding.
IT providers have to work within the limitations set by the manufacturer and original coding. If the manufacturer no longer supports the software, it will not address concerns or issues raised. As a result, users are on their own with a glitchy, out-of-date program the IT provider cannot correct.
Solutions for EOS software
Again, like EOL hardware, the most reliable solution for EOS software is to find a comparable but current replacement. This may mean purchasing new software licensing, moving to a cloud-based application, or finding a new program that meets your needs without the security risk.
Software is also a part of Asset Lifecycle Management and your IT roadmap.
Quality IT providers will alert you if one of your business applications or software programs has been declared EOS. They will also help you find, install, and apply new software for your budget and needs.
3. Incompatible hardware or software
Sometimes, hardware or software will not work within an existing IT system, regardless of efforts to correct it. This is usually due to purchasing technology without understanding the hardware or application's proper use or limitations.
For example, consumer-grade hardware and software are created for private use within the home. As such, it cannot connect to business networks. Therefore, no matter what an IT provider does, it cannot turn a consumer-grade device into a compatible business-grade device.
Why does this matter?
If incompatible hardware or software is purchased, it likely cannot be altered to fit your IT system and environment.
IT providers are limited to the product's original design and purpose. Therefore, IT providers cannot remake a device or application they did not create. For example, IT providers do not have access to alter the original code for purchased programs.
Trying to force incompatible hardware into an existing IT system is a "square peg, round hole" situation. Sometimes, you can force it into temporary submission, but it's never a perfect fit.
As such, it may take more time and money to correct, only to result in an uncomfortable, temporary solution that does not meet your needs long-term. This slows productivity and increases stress and frustration for all users and, potentially, customers.
Solutions for incompatible technology
Once you've purchased incompatible technology, the best solution is often to buy a replacement compatible with your IT system and goals.
Talk to your IT provider before purchasing technology to avoid the frustration and additional spending from incompatible technology. Understand your goals and needs for the technology so your provider can find the best possible matches.
4. Poor security practices
As cyberattacks increase, IT security practices become progressively more critical.
Quality IT providers will perform regular risk assessments to help clients identify risks and solutions. They will also recommend or give security training for users. However, IT providers cannot force users to follow security advice.
A company with poor security practices and policies puts itself in significant danger of cyberattacks and exploitation.
Why does this matter?
No business is exempt from IT security risks. Cybercriminals target businesses of any size, and some attacks can cripple or bankrupt smaller enterprises.
In addition, no cybersecurity tool can replace human intelligence. The best endpoint protection, firewall, or antivirus may act as solid deterrents, but they can't stop users from sharing login credentials or falling for phishing emails.
Solutions for poor security practices
Talk to your IT provider about security risks, training, and policies. Quality IT providers will follow a proven security framework like NIST or CIS.
Once you know the risks and solutions, introduce security policies and make security a part of your company culture. IT providers can help you create guidelines, but it is up to company leadership to enforce security practices.
Next steps for addressing issues your IT provider cannot fix
Quality IT providers are resourceful, knowledgeable, proactive, and helpful. They will do their best to solve their clients' IT concerns and issues. However, there are some problems IT providers will be unable to fix.
These problems include:
- End of Life hardware
- End of Service software
- Incompatible hardware or software
- Poor security practices
However, IT providers can offer recommendations for updated technology and security practices. A quality IT partnership will address these issues during risk assessments and IT roadmap reviews.
If you're worried your IT system may be experiencing one or more of these significant issues, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is any of your technology more than 5 years old?
- Do you have the correct lifecycle information for your technology?
- Are your mission-critical applications supported?
- Do you have security tools and protocols that you follow?
- Do you have an updated and practical IT roadmap?
- Does continuing to attempt repairs cost more than buying a replacement?
If the answer to these questions is "no," speak to your IT provider as soon as possible. If your IT provider is unwilling to discuss these concerns or offer solutions, it may be time to find a new provider.
Technology is an ever-changing target that is constantly evolving, and it can feel intimidating trying to keep up. However, a quality IT provider and partnership offer guidance and assistance in hitting that technology bullseye.
The right technology and IT partnership will help you meet your business IT needs and goals.
For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients build successful IT strategies and processes while utilizing effective technology.
If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.
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