As businesses have become ever more dependent on technology, IT services providers have been popping up left and right. They’ve all got different strengths, capabilities, and price points to consider. Some charge you by the hour and, while available to address any concerns you may have, they are pretty hands-off. Others are working on your network around the clock but charge more in turn. Many may boast an impressive record when working with a broad range of companies, but lack the experience necessary to understand the ins and outs of your specific industry. Some cost way too much month-to-month, while others try the “bargain bin” approach, but as a result, can’t afford to field the staff needed to respond to issues in a timely fashion.
There’s certainly a lot to consider when looking for an IT services provider for your business. And if you’re not particularly knowledgeable about information technology yourself, it can sometimes feel like you’re going into the process blind.
To figure out whether an IT company will mesh with your business’s workflow and industry-specific requirements, it’s important to vet them thoroughly. The key is to ask the right questions. Here are four that will allow you to zero in on any IT company’s priorities and strengths, and help you determine whether they’re a good fit for your organization.
1. DO YOU TAKE A PROACTIVE OR ‘BREAK-FIX’ APPROACH TO IT?
When your car breaks down, you take it to the shop and you get it fixed. The mechanic charges you for the work done and for the parts, and then sends you on your way. Many business owners consider their computer network to be the same kind of deal. Why not just wait until an outage happens and then call up somebody who charges by the hour to fix it? That way, they imagine, they won’t be paying for “extra” services they think they don’t need.
But unfortunately, unlike your car, when your network is out, you’re losing dollars every single minute. The cost of a network outage is difficult to overstate – not only will it bring your business to its knees while it’s out, but it’ll frustrate customers and employees and result in a cascading set of problems. And, if you haven’t kept up on maintenance, it will take more time.
Instead of a “break-fix” technician on hand, you need a managed IT services provider. These experts work directly with your company to optimize your network and its security at every turn, and are available nearly any time to address your concerns. And they’re genuinely invested in providing the best service possible, since it’s in their best interest as well.
2. DO YOU ANSWER YOUR PHONES ‘LIVE’?
The Number 1 highest rated client support item from our Client Survey was answering the phones ‘live’ during the work day. When you’re already frustrated that you can’t work due to a computer problem, working through a phone tree to get some help can put you over the top. Some IT groups send all incoming calls to their cell phones. That means they’re taking new requests while they’re working for you.
3. WHAT WILL COST ME EXTRA?
This question is particularly important if you’re looking at a managed services provider (which you should be). The last thing you need is for a crisis to strike, only to discover you need to shell out a bunch of surcharges to get your network back up and running. Make sure the costs and services included are crystal clear before you sign anything.
4. HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE?
As scrappy as the “new kid on the block” may be, you don’t want them in charge of one of the most important aspects of your business. Make sure any IT professionals you do business with have extensive experience not only in IT, but in your particular industry as well. That way they’ll know exactly what to do to optimize processes and keep your data under lock and key. – CMW