When your staff is telling you that the performance of your technology is nothing short of atrocious, what do you do?
Once your business grows to the point where you have two dozen laptops, desktops, and other devices, it’s a slow fade to when IT issues become the norm as you start to experience performance and productivity issues.
Let’s say you’re a financial services firm or CPA firm, and you don’t have a million dollars for an IT budget. Outsourcing is probably your only option. However outsourcing comes in all varieties and types. What if you outsourced your IT, but its someone who only “moonlights” as an IT person?
You’re finding them slow to respond and slow to address issues and they seem to have no strategy or plan to prevent future problems. They’re just not cutting it. You know it’s time to look for a new IT partner.
With so many competing Dallas-Fort Worth-based IT services firms, how do you choose the best one?
- Should you choose based on price?
- What direction do you strategically go and what’s best for your business?
- Do you need to pay for a monthly fee to handle all your IT needs, or hourly?
- What things SHOULD you be paying for, versus what’s a luxury?
- And how much security does a guy really need, anyway?
If you’re in this situation, don’t hire just any IT firm. Ask these eight questions to find the best long-term fit, so you can avoid paying more later for a problem you didn’t solve today.
1) What IT services are included in your monthly agreement?
You don’t want to wait until an issue arises to realize it falls outside your IT services companies’ wheelhouse. At the very least, the company should include:
- Help desk support. PC issues spring up daily, and your IT support should have a defined process in place to quickly respond to these minor issues.
- Cybersecurity. Security of your network, your business data, customer information, and your office devices is absolutely critical to your business. But not every IT services company is equipped for the job, which means you’ll need to ask about which threat management, firewall, secure authentication and virtual private network (VPN)/secure remote access your IT company uses.
- Strategic planning. Without a strategy all you have is hope, and hope is not a strategy, correct? Your IT services firm should know you business well enough to create a technology roadmap and budget which aligns to your business objectives.
- Risk management. Your IT services firm should be proactive in preventing your IT issues, not only responding to them. You want them to be proactive, as well as reactive by evaluating and managing risk and auditing your IT environment.
- Training and education. It is one thing to introduce new technologies, it’s another to ensure every department is using them properly. Understand the type of user training and education you will receive.
- Backup and disaster recovery. You should uncover whether your IT firm monitors onsite and offsite backups, how often they restore your data, and if you can see a written plan for how you would recover my company data in the event of a disaster.
2) Why should I hire you over another IT support company?
The best IT support companies know their strengths and weaknesses. The best IT Services firms are good in certain industries. Tap this knowledge to make sure your specific IT needs are met with someone who clearly understands them.
3) Can you provide client referrals for companies in similar industries to mine?
You should see proof of expertise in certain industries before signing a managed services contract. If the IT company you’re talking with can’t provide strong client referrals, with specific knowledge related to your industry, it likely doesn’t provide standout services or excellent customer service.
4) What IT certifications does your team hold?
Technology is constantly changing, and your IT support company should commit to continuous education. Forward-thinking IT support companies invest in employee training to stay ahead of the curve. If your company relies on vendors like Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, or Cisco, make sure your IT firm has a firm grasp of those platforms and technologies.
5) How much will IT support cost each month?
Of course, you’ll want to know how much IT support services will set you back each month. But instead of price shopping alone, investigate what each service includes. The cost is in the value. If you expect end-to-end IT services but the company only offers basic network support, that base price will quickly go up each month in add-ons. Get a clear understanding of the plan and offerings to factor in all the monthly costs. Find out what you should expect to pay for IT services in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas area and greater region.
6) How will you anticipate and plan for my future business needs?
You need an IT company that will be around for the long haul. You don’t want to discover the IT firm is unresponsive or inadequate after a few months and go back to the drawing board.
This question says a lot about your IT support company and separates the true IT partners from reactive service providers. A long-term IT partner will take time to understand your short- and long-term business goals upfront and recommend ways to prepare for growth. They’ll meet with you every few months to review what’s changed and realign priorities.
Do your homework and evaluate how your IT Services firm goes the extra mile for your business.
7) How long have you been offering cloud services?
The future of technology is in the cloud. On-premises solutions won’t die any time soon, but the cloud is an entirely different beast. Your IT services firm should be prepared for the cloud revolution. It’s not enough to offer cloud services. Ask how long the IT firm has been deploying cloud solutions. If it’s less than five years, and the company doesn’t have many cloud customers, it might be stuck in the past. Find an IT services company that has at least 5-10 years of cloud experience under its belt. A longer cloud tenue means it’s likely worked out the kinks, so you won’t be a guinea pig.
8) Where does your internal team fall short and how do you fill those gaps?
No IT Services firm or MSP can be everything to every customer. Each undoubtedly has some weak areas. For instance, some IT firms outsource help desk services. If this is the case, ask: Where are they located? How do you ensure service quality?
Search for an IT firm that offers most core managed IT services in-house and only outsources specific specialized services to select, reputable companies. If they’re guarded around this question, there’s a good chance they rely heavily on outsourcing, and you should go elsewhere.
Looking to replace your current IT vendor because you’re unhappy? Need help on where to start? Let us empower your teams in focusing on your business not your technology.