Whether you are making a move from in-house to outsourced, or you are a growing company in need of support, knowing what to ask your potential IT company is essential to ensure that you get the services you need the most.
In the past, support was usually limited to one of two options – having your own IT team, or calling out for ‘break-it’ support. Over time however, a new kid on the block came along to offer another way forward. This was what is often known as a managed solution, wherein you essentially outsource your support needs to a company able to offer such assistance.
How do you choose this sort of company though, and more importantly, how do you know that they are right for the job?
Choosing the Right IT Partner
Every company is different, with unique requirements. As such, the services that each company may require are also unique. What works for one business may not be right for another. You could be a small operation or a larger enterprise, or even a regular sized business. You may use computers all day, every day, or hardly at all.
Whatever the case, the following questions will help you determine whether or not your potential provider is able to meet these needs.
1. What services are offered? Obvious as it may seem, not everyone remembers to get a basic overview of services offered – after all, IT might seem all the same to some extent if it relates to computers. Knowing whether there are specialist options such as server management, network management or cloud hosting for example will give you a better idea of whether your specific needs will be met.
2. What experience and skills are offered? Find out how long the provider has been in business, how trained their technicians are, what sort of qualifications they have, whether they have any affiliations/endorsements/certification, how often tech staff update their training and anything else they can add in terms of experience in the field.
3. How are customers billed? This is an important question for a few reasons. The first reason is that it helps to know what sort of billing system is used before you sign on any dotted lines. It is easier for budgeting for your IT needs, and easier all round to have an idea of typical costs. Are there unexpected surprises for after-hours work? Is billing consolidated or fixed?
4. How is support typically provided? Do they offer phone support along with call-outs? What is the usual system for getting someone out to your premises? Is there someone to help you after hours? Also, it’s good to know what sort of quality levels they adhere to in regards to support staff – you don’t want to find out only after you’ve signed on that support consists of part-time help from the owner’s daughter for an hour or two each day.
5. What are other people saying about the company? Last but not least, you should also ask others (and the company too if you’re feeling up to it) what they think. Are there testimonials or reviews available from previous customers? Have there been any bad reviews, or only glowing reports? Get the lowdown on what real people have to say – even if you ask your social network as well as Google.
Much like any other relationship with a service provider, it’s important to get things started on a good note. A reliable, quality focused provider will help keep your systems up and running at all times, without issues or downtime or even nasty bill surprises. Taking a bit of time in the beginning to ask a few questions will save you plenty of time in the long run if it means finding just the right company to suit your needs.