Qualities to Look For in an IT Provider

Let’s face it—there are hundreds of managed service providers in your area who would love to take you on as a client. From national chains to small family-owned businesses, your business has a lot of options to choose from. This decision can seem daunting and your business shouldn’t be given to the first search result for “IT companies near me.” It is important to meet with a variety of companies in order to find the partner who will most fully protect your business’ assets and increase your team’s efficiency. We recommend using the following factors to influence your decision:

Goals

To prepare for these interviews, we recommend that your executive team compiles a list of the goals you have for your new partner as well as for your budget. Your budget goals should remain flexible because providers will have various recommendations and sometimes increasing your budget can bring more benefits to your current systems than you would if you went with the cheaper option. During the initial meeting, providers should be able to assess your current situation and should be able to present which services they recommend and why. They should strive to provide a product that not only protects your current environment, but also makes it more productive.  It is important that they share your vision of success and will provide innovative solutions to reach those goals.

Services Provided

It seems obvious, but you should inquire about which services each company offers. Most companies specialize in one service, so it is important to ensure they can effectively handle your other needs. These services include help desk support, backup and disaster recovery plans, network security, and more.

  • One popular example is finding provider who can manage both IT and VoIP. It is important to know if each company provides additional services, such as VoIP, themselves or relies on a partner. If they do rely on a partner, inquire about whether or not they can diagnose and correct issues and their response time for emergency needs.
  • Another sought-after service is cloud hosting. You should inquire about which methods each company employs to host your important data. Public clouds employ outside companies to provide the management and security of your company’s information. Private clouds are hosted at your provider’s location. That means they are responsible for the protection of and access to your information. Some companies even host from a secure data center, where servers are in secure and temperature-controlled locations.

Availability

Depending on the type of business you own, you will require different levels of coverage. If you have employees working overnight, it is imperative for them to receive the same services as your day staff, including help desk support services. If an emergency happens during evening and weekend hours, it is important to know that your IT provider will handle it in a timely manner. To get the most accurate prediction of a response time, inquire about each company’s staff size compared to the number of clients they have. Many providers even offer a guarantee on how fast your issue will be addressed.

Experience

Not only should you ask about the number of clients each potential partner has, but you should also find out which types of businesses they work with.  Different industries require different levels of security and technology focuses. For example, a doctor’s office should have a heavy focus on HIPAA compliance while an advertising agency wants efficient employee communication. Although many companies can perform a wide variety of services, it is important to partner with an expert in your industry.

Billing

It is apparent that you should inquire about the prices each company will charge you. Some companies offer a one-size-fits-all package that will have a single monthly charge. Other companies charge according to the number of hours worked and then some offer hybrid packages between the two. The services you require will determine the price you will pay, so make sure to analyze each proposal’s long-term costs.

We understand that it is impossible to list every aspect that affects the success of an IT provider. From the sales person’s presentation to the cost of an emergency situation, your business should analyze it all. This list was designed to help you conduct a proper interview with your potential service provider. Of course, we would love to have the chance to earn your business! To find out more about the benefits of working with Westech Solutions, contact us today!