Business Management – It’s not your hardware

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This is another installment of my Business Management posts, geared towards those of us who are business owners and/or consultants.

This topic really irritates me. It’s such a simple concept, so why do so many people out there not grasp it ? Unless you’re the owner of the organization or business buying the hardware, the rule it simple: it’s not yours.

As you know, my company provides 3rd party IT support services to clients. As you can deduce from that, I have clients that own hardware, whether it be servers, networking equipment, laptops or desktops. That hardware might be purchased from us, it might not be. In any case, they in turn then pay my company to provide support and administration services for all that equipment. Many of you are in the same situation, whether you’re providing consulting or 3rd party support / administration services.

So often, I see other service providers ‘lock down’ equipment, even if the clients don’t want them to. Even 3rd party software vendors are guilty of this. Just the other day I had a 3rd party software vendor lock a client out of their SQL server. When my client asked for the credentials, they were told by this software vendor “well, we don’t like giving that out on our servers”. Ummmmmmm, “our servers” ? Reality check: your CLIENT owns that server, not you.

Essentially, anything you do to a client’s system has to be something they’re comfortable with. If a client wants something done, or wants a password / login credentials, you simply don’t have the right to refuse. Certainly you can try and explain to your client why you’re reluctant to do something or give certain information out, but in the end, your client owns the hardware and systems and it is their call. I’ve had clients come to me, hire my company on as their 3rd party support, and not have the password to their Windows server. I’ve had previous IT support providers outright refuse to give me network credentials. I’ve had software vendors refuse to let me into local, client owned and on-premise SQL servers.

This is simply a complete lack of understanding of how 3rd party services work. As a 3rd party, you don’t ‘own’ any of your client’s infrastructure. Similar to a mechanic working on a customer’s vehicle, that mechanic can’t change the locks and then refuse to give you anything but a valet key. As a 3rd party, you’re being paid to do what your client wants you to do, plain and simple. Becoming possessive and acting like a network is ‘yours’ and you have the ultimate say is simply a poor business practice.

Remember, your client has their equipment and they’re paying YOU to come in to manage and support it. Don’t forget that role, and don’t become possessive of something that isn’t yours to own.

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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