Anyone who values their business should know that choosing who to outsource your IT needs to is an incredibly important decision. The first result when you search ‘IT provider’ isn’t necessarily going to be the right choice for you – but where do you start? There are plenty of things you can look for in an IT company (accolades, experience, good word of mouth), but it can be hard to tell what you might be getting into.
Businesses both small and large become involved with IT support providers for a huge range of reasons – for example, you might not be able to afford a dedicated in-house IT team, or you might require certain experience to expand your systems that is out of your current team’s range of experience. In this article, we’ve gathered several things to look out for when searching for the right kind of IT support provider.
Look for Experience
You might think that a slick website or a well-placed ad signifies a good company, but this isn’t always the case. It isn’t difficult nowadays to create a professional-looking website without much knowledge, and paying for advertisements doesn’t necessarily equal experience.
If you want to find the right provider for your business, you’re going to need to do your research, starting with a simple search. First of all, decide whether you’d like your company to be close enough that you can see them in person, or whether you’re happy to work with them remotely. A large company may also have employees stationed around the country who can reach you quickly if need be.
If you want to check out the credentials of those who work at the business, LinkedIn can be a good place to start. While people are capable of bending the truth; it tends to be a decent indicator of their qualifications, awards and experience.
Communication Is Key
Whenever a business is in a field that involves a certain level of expertise that the average person might not possess, there exists a risk that you might be tricked into paying more for a service you don’t necessarily need. Obviously, this isn’t to tar every IT provider with the same brush, but it’s worth bearing in mind that some could throw a lot of strange terms at you in the hopes that you’ll go along with what they say.
Some knowledge on the latest tech is always useful (you can use sites like Techopedia to clear up unfamiliar terms), but it shouldn’t be essential to working with an IT provider – it’s on them to make sure you understand what you need and what they’re offering. Being able to communicate effectively with you in layman’s terms is an excellent indicator of whether you can build a solid relationship with them.
On Your Level
When you employ the services of an IT provider, you need to be sure that they’re working with you, not just for their own benefit. They should consistently be focusing on both your current business needs and any needs that you might need in the future. Therefore, you should be suspicious of any company that insists on you getting the latest, fastest, priciest tech; chances are, slightly older and cheaper technology will work absolutely fine for your business.
This fancy new tech might make them look more impressive, but the field of IT solutions moves so fast that cutting-edge products from a year or so ago will be both far cheaper, just as effective, and will likely have more online user support.
A History of Problem Solving
If you’re looking for support, you likely started searching for maintenance reasons – after all, you don’t need to know a lot about IT to know that a solid internet connection, robust phone and email systems, and reliable security measures are vital for running a successful business.
Working with a reputable IT company can keep problems from materializing in the first place. For instance, would you rather walk into the office at the start of the week and discover that your whole IT network is down, or would you rather discover a text on your phone when you wake up stating that a problem was already found and fixed? Even if you have a solid in-house IT team, if you encounter issues during office hours that happened overnight, you could be in for some downtime.
In fact, it’s estimated that even smaller companies can lose as much as $140,000 an hour to downtime; preventing this by working with an IT provider could potentially save your business. Asking them about issues they’ve managed to solve for other companies in the past – particularly those that are similar to yours in size or field – is a great way to find out whether they’ll have your IT system’s back.
Growth and Ambition
You likely have plans for the future of your business that involve growth and expansion – you want to make sure that your IT provider can move with you in this process. While some will want to provide the same old package of services that they offered you at the start, others will be able to form a genuine partnership with your company and help you move into the future.
How do you find out whether an IT provider will be able to do this for you? You get testimonials! While many companies can get a few positive sentences from their latest clients, you want to be looking out for signs of a positive, mutually beneficial working relationship – if you can find out how long they’ve been employed, that’s useful information. You can even contact some of the clients if the IT provider have revealed their name in the quotes to get some more detailed information and a clear recommendation.
It’s hard to know this immediately, but the best IT providers are there for your business through more difficult periods, not just at the start when you’re a fresh client. Technology is constantly advancing, and it can be hard to know how to keep up – a good IT provider will have lead others successfully through this maze. If you know that they have, they’ll likely be worth working with!