By: Karen Powell - Marketing Manager
10 things to look for when selecting an IT provider
The vast majority of businesses these days are highly dependent on their IT systems in order to be able to operate efficiently. Unfortunately IT failure can cause big problems when systems fail. Operations suffer, and in turn the business will suffer. Therefore, IT downtime should never be an option for your business.
Most businesses know that maintaining a working IT system is crucial, but a lot of business either don’t have the time and resource to do it themselves or can’t afford full time IT staff. One of the best alternatives to this, is to work with an IT partner who will ensure that your business runs as effectively as possible.
There are so many IT service companies out there, it can actually be a task in itself trying to find the perfect company to work with. One of the best places to start, is to know what to look for. Here are our top tips on what to look out for when deciding -
1. Level of Competence Do they have the talent, experience, and training to take care of your needs? To find out, ask them for their industry accreditations or certificates on the IT systems they work with and make sure you probe them on their knowledge of working with these systems. It’s also worth asking them for client testimonials, so you can check out honest feedback of them from their current customers. .
2. Availability There are plenty of competent IT providers out there, but ask yourself these questions. Would they be able to provide you a service when you need it? Do they have enough staff to fulfil your needs? And can they immediately respond to your requests when you have a problem? One of the major considerations when deciding on an IT provider is their availability and to ensure their able to operate when it’s convenient to you and not them.
3. Which service package? There are several options available when it comes to support packages and all IT providers will have different options on offer. Decide on which package would work best for your business needs and budgets? Whether it’s a total support package, where you will incur a monthly fee but should offer you peace of mind if anything goes wrong, or a pay as you go option which may work better for you if you don’t think you will be requiring a lot of support. Whatever your needs, the provider should be able to tailor a package which will work for you and your business.
4. How service is delivered Yes, the IT provider will be there when things break, but how will they be helping you? Some require you to phone their help desk; others tell you to email a request for service. When deciding on an IT provider, ask them for their average response times, the process on how you are going to get help and you may also want to know how the process works their side when they receive a request.
5. Remote services. They say prevention is better than the cure. This is also applicable when searching for an IT provider. It’s not always enough that they will provide you with a fast and efficient service when something goes wrong. It’s of ten more important to your business, that the provider is being proactive and monitoring your IT systems to ensure that everything is running smoothly and effectively in the first place.
6. Ensure your systems thrive, not just survive! A good IT provider does not only solve problems, they should also be able to provide you with feedback on what went wrong and why? They should then work with you to form a strategy going forward, to ensure the problems don’t arise again in the future.
7. Communication skills Think about the main reason why you are looking for an IT provider? And it’s probably that you lack the knowledge and understanding of all things technical! Some technicians can confuse you with technical jargon, which is generally unnecessary. When working with an engineer it’s important to ensure they have a good level of technical knowledge, but also the ability to communicate at a level that you will understand so you don’t become confused.
8. Cost This is very important especially for small businesses that operate on tight budgets. Ask to see a typical invoice for the plan that you are considering, that way you can ensure there are no hidden costs that you haven’t budgeted for, further down the line.
9. Other services IT providers generally don’t only offer support packages, you may find they offer services such as disaster recovery or telephony, which you may be getting from another supplier. If this is the case it may be worth discussing all of the requirements that you have with your potential provider to ensure your systems are streamlined and cost effective.
10. Updates Always make sure that the IT provider is fully aware and up to date with the latest industry news and trends. In turn, they should be able to keep you up to date and ensure you are working with the most current and efficient systems. This way, your competitors won’t leave you behind!