Photo by Elina Krima
As business-critical systems become more reliant on technology, can you afford to stay with your current provider?
Seventy percent of IT spending centers on business-critical technology. Is your current IT provider helping you reduce your costs or are they adding to the burden?
Not all IT support companies are created equal.
Being able to deploy, manage, and maintain your technology requirements 24/7 requires a partner you can depend on. Forty-three percent of US companies outsource their IT support, but what factors need to be considered?
Here are five questions to consider when choosing the right IT support agency.
1. Do They Understand Digital Security?
Digital security does not start and stop with anti-virus software. Hacking attacks happen every thirty-nine seconds. Your business needs an IT company that understands all aspects of keeping your organization safe.
If you feel tempted to run everything in-house, don’t.
Cybersecurity tools like web vulnerability scanners and network defense software should be left to professionals. Incorrect set-up of, for example, a Virtual Private Network (VPN), could give hackers access to your entire network.
The support company has to understand these technologies but they also need to implement them legally.
Digital legislation such as HIPAA and PCI standards compliance or GDPR data privacy regulations for trading with the EU requires qualified specialists. They should be able to plan your IT strategy and give guidance to put it into place. One wrong move can cost thousands of dollars.
Ask for documentation on their knowledge of current legislation. Request a full list of security measures they employ and what they mean in plain English. Ensure they translate jargon into practical examples.
2. Can the IT Support Agency Scale With Your Business?
If your business experiences rapid growth can your IT requirements keep pace?
Some businesses will require on-site file server networks as they get bigger. Your IT company must be able to:
- Install and migrate servers and switches
- Upgrade cabling
- Implement secure wireless protocols
- Provide reliable UPS
- Configure the hardware and software
Moving offices can also bring its own technological challenges. Internal staff can’t reset domains or provide IP mapping. The same goes for VoIP deployments or switching broadband providers.
Outsourced IT providers should also embrace the latest mobile technologies.
As your workforce increases can they add extra mobile devices to your network?
Services like Google GSuite allow selected Android apps to install on all your business phones. Is the tech firm aware of this? Have they implemented it recently?
Moving existing data to the Cloud to increase productivity requires careful planning. Ask the IT company how they would do this and how long it will take based on your requirements.
3. Can They Reduce Your Current Costs?
On average, Canadian businesses spent $78,000 in implementing cybersecurity measures. Even small businesses reported spending an average of $44,000.
A reduction of your IT overheads is possible using modern technologies such as Software as a Service (SaaS). But is the IT provider willing to share those savings with you?
An indicator of a good IT support company is a dedicated account manager. That person will be your rock when digital difficulties arise. Not only are they the go-to guy but they should be able to provide the best deals possible.
Procurement for hardware and software purchasing requires careful analysis. IT companies need to know about current market trends, emerging threats, and new software to fill a gap in your organization.
Check the Service Level Agreement (SLA) to see exactly what’s offered and if there are any hidden costs.
They should make you aware of unforeseen charges like breaching data limits or Cloud configuration in AWS. If they will host your website, how much bandwidth is available per month and how much will it cost if you go over?
By saving you money, IT firms help keep your business grow which in turn helps them. This positive approach separates the money-grabbers from the ones you want to partner with long-term.
4. Do They Offer 24/7 Support?
Your business requires full-time protection.
Even if you have an in-house IT department, outsourcing offers help outside office hours. But can the company provide immediate helpdesk support at peak times?
Ask if they have revolving teams to man the phones. Will a specific member handle your requests? Do they have unified notes to get up-to-speed on your issue?
Chatbots do not count as round-the-clock support. Having a real person at the end of the phone to guide you through a security breach gives more than peace of mind. Quick decisions on a hacked website, for example, requires human interaction.
They should be able to solve problems via remote assistance too. Many tech firms use TeamViewer to access your computer workstations and fix issues over the Internet. Support agents can take over your screen to diagnose and make fixes as if they were sitting at your desk.
On-site support will be required too.
Be it the installation of a local area network to hardware repairs, you want to see real people on your premises. Is this part of their main service or do they prefer remote help only? Warning lights should flash if you never see a human being except for their sales manager.
5. Have They a Good Track Record?
You need an established IT company to partner with.
With two-thirds of SMBs failing in the first two years, don’t put your own business at risk with a start-up. Experience counts in this field and it takes years to build. An IT support firm established for over a decade indicates excellent service.
Look at their client list for similar businesses to your own. Contact those clients. Most will be happy to give feedback.
What was their experience like? Was everything delivered as promised? Are they still current clients?
How do you find an IT support company to begin with?
Word-of-mouth is always helpful, but Google is your friend. Search for top managed service providers to compare the best in your area. Sites like Cloudtango award the top 100 IT companies each year by region.
And the Winner Is…
Whatever IT support agency you choose, ensure you research them thoroughly.
Not all tech support companies can help grow your business. Very small firms don’t have the resources for 24/7 support.
Very large IT companies will break the bank. They need to handle your current and future requirements yet still remain competitive.
The ideal solution is one who is available at any time and one that you know you can trust. They will be proactive, alerting you to issues you don’t even know exist.
Shop around to find the best deal and don’t be afraid to outsource to the professionals.
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