Some introspection is required, regularly

Last week I was asked by an old friend to have a quick look at their server, because they were experiencing severe performance problems in their Point of Sale system.

Now they’re by no means a large business, with about 35 users on the system at its busiest, but when the shop is busy you can ill afford having your critical systems hold up business.

I came away from having the quick look (took an hour), having found a multitude of problems on the server, all which could have been solved if the people actually working on it understood the basics of what they were working with.

Unfortunately, what I’ve found in a large portion of the IT services industry, is that the price of staff, and not the skill level, is the determining factor when hiring, and the good ones will always move into the ‘large enterprise’ domain, because this is where the interesting problems, and the better salaries are.

Service providers hire the cheapest “skills” they can find, and their clients suffer because of this.  Not only do the basic issues slip through the cracks and slow down the business.  But they also get billed more hours to get the same job done.  A win-win situation for the service provider, a lose-lose for every one of their clients.

Problem is, if this is your approach, and not just in the IT industry, you will not be able to sustain your business for a very long time.  Clients get frustrated and move onto the next service provider, and you go down.

Better solution in the long run is to make sure that your staff has the necessary skills, and to pay the ones with the skills enough so that they stick around.

Another thing I took away from this, is that you should periodically make sure that all is as it should be at all your clients.  Stop by, have some coffee and chat.  Any problems will quickly surface over a friendly chat, and you can then quickly deal with these.

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