Do You Know What To Look For?

5 Simple Questions To Ask

For whatever reason, you may decide that it’s time to switch IT service companies. Perhaps their response time is too slow, or maybe they were bought out by a larger company and you’re no longer getting the personal service you relied on.

There are any number of reasons why business owners and managers decide it’s time to find a new IT provider. Before jumping into the interview process and asking tons of questions, the first question you should ask is — What am I looking for in a tech support company?

Why Didn’t Your Current IT Company Work Out?

When switching IT companies, take note of your past experience and determine why things didn’t work out. For example:

  • If the tech company was taken over by a larger one, did their management style not work for you?
  • Or perhaps the changes were within your business and they couldn’t handle your changing needs.
  • Maybe you were faced with budget restrictions and they couldn’t adjust your IT plan to align with this.

Be sure to ask yourself the questions that will help you determine why things didn’t work out.

What IT Support Do Your Employees Require?

Collect feedback from your managers and employees as well. What didn’t work for them? What do they require to work more efficiently and productively? Are they worried about data security and need security awareness training? Conduct a survey and focus on their concerns and how this translates into what IT services your business needs.

Which IT Company Do Your Business Associates Recommend?

One of the best ways to find the IT provider who will work best is to ask your business associates what IT company they recommend and why. If it’s a business that’s in your industry, even better.

If you run a dental practice, ask other dentists that you trust who they use for IT support. Find one that specializes in the technology you use. The same goes whether you’re in manufacturing, professional services or you run a nonprofit organization. Finding an IT provider that specializes in what you do is essential. They’ll understand your needs and will know what technology solutions work best for you.

Will You Be Pursuing New Projects Or Opportunities?

Once you determine what didn’t work for you, what your employees need and who your friends recommend, decide what changes you may be making:

  • Are you planning new projects that require an IT strategist?
  • Will you be adding branch offices or contracting with employees who will be working from home or on the road?
  • Will you be adding to your staff and need to scale up your technology?

Think about where your business will be going in the next 3 to 5 years.

Make Your List

Document all of this and prepare a list of your “Must Haves” before you begin interviewing companies. You want to make the best choice that you can.

Just like you have standards when hiring employees, you must know what you want from your technology – not necessarily specifics like hardware and software, but in a conceptual sense.

You develop job descriptions for your employees, why not do this for your IT company? You have a vision, and just like you need the right staff to get you there, you need an IT provider to do the same.

How Many IT Companies Should You Interview?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this. Some businesses have more choices than others just because of their location. If you’re in a metropolitan area, you may have 10 or more companies to choose from. However, if your office is located in a rural area, you may only have two or three (if that!). As a general rule, if you meet with three companies that should be sufficient.

Prepare Your Questions

These questions will also vary depending upon your requirements. But here are 5 that should give you a good start.

1. How quickly do you respond to requests?

Most IT companies will have a guaranteed response time. Ask for this and how long it takes them to deal with common problems that businesses like yours deal with. Ask to see their Service Level Agreement. This should reveal what you can expect.

2. Do they have an expertise in the industry you work in?

If you work in healthcare, are they HIPAA compliant? Do they understand HIPAA, MACRA and MIPS guidelines and requirements? If you’re in Financial Services, do they know about FINRA cybersecurity rules? And, if you run a retail establishment, can they ensure your technology complies with PCI-DSS regulations?

3. Do they have an IT business strategist on staff?

Do they offer IT Consulting? As your business grows, your IT requirements will grow too. Ask if they have a business strategist who can develop an IT plan that goes 3 to 5 years out. They should meet with your leadership, develop and oversee the implementation of a customized program that gets you where you want to go.

4. Can they work within your budget?

You have to budget for everything else and you should for your technology. But without knowing what you’ll require you can’t do this on your own.

Managed IT Services provide a cost-effective way to obtain the essential services you need like business continuity, IT security and help-desk support.

A worthy IT provider will work with you to align your technology solutions to your budget. And they should always look for ways that you can cut costs with things like cloud services, virtualization and Software-as-a-Service plans like Microsoft Office 356.

5. Are they proactive rather than reactive?

It’s always more cost-effective to prevent IT disasters as opposed to repairing after them. Make sure they employ Remote Management and Monitoring services to detect computing or security issues before they cause downtime.

And ask if they log these services and how often they review the logs. This is important to keep your IT healthy and free of viruses that can take it down.

Switching IT providers can be stressful. There are many things to consider. But armed with the right information you can find the one that’s best for you now and in the years to come.

It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest in technology. The more informed you are, the more likely you’ll know if your IT company is right for you.

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Published on 6th November 2018 by Jon Morningstar

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