Look, running a successful business is not a walk in the park- whether it’s just a small start-up or an established enterprise with all the resources to throw at every opportunity.
One of the reasons why this will always remain true is because there’s not a single business that does not rely on technology. And when that’s the case, you need to get the right IT support company to take care of your IT infrastructure and needs so you can remain functioning at optimal levels (or beyond).
With many companies fronting their good sides all over, it will always prove a difficult decision choosing the right fit for your needs unless you are well informed.
As such, here are our little secrets to finding the right IT support company your business
But first, here are the things you have to cover first before anything else.
- Do your research and understand your needs. Look at what you need now and those you’ll need going forward
- Create a fault log of your system and infrastructure. This will help you understand the exact things that your new IT support company will start with. It will also help you know how much work needs to be done at the very beginning
- Understand your budget and its elasticities. How much can you stretch to get top-notch support? Most times, cheap is very expensive and it may be wrapped in sheep’s clothing.
And now let’s get to things you have to watch out for in your new IT support company you are about to hire.
What to look out for before hiring an IT support company
Now that we’ve covered the first things first, let’s see what to look out for when hiring a new IT support company to take care of your IT infrastructure.
1. Don’t be quick to jump into Long-Term Contracts
Long-term contracts are good for the IT support provider and bad for your business. The longer they engage you, the more money they make.
As such, leave room for mishaps along the way. Your business model may change and render some IT infrastructure irrelevant going forward or you may realize something better and more affordable along the way and need to shift. Or, you may just realize you are not happy with their service and need to move on.
Whatever transpires, do not blindly accept long-term contracts unless you are purely dealing with people you know and have full trust with their services. Even then, analyze the contract details to the latter and be sure there are no surprise extra charges, no fees in availing any information you may need while changing service providers and that you understand the cancellation terms.
2. Opt for providers who offer proactive management rather reactive break/fix service
This is one area where most businesses go wrong. Although this is common with most IT support companies to offer reactive break/fix service tickets, some offer more than just fix things or monitor your infrastructure for possible downtimes before they happen.
There’s nothing wrong with having someone monitoring your infrastructure 24/7 for potential breakdowns. But, if it’s possible to get an IT support provider who not only monitors your systems but can also go the extra mile to proactively engage you so that they can understand your business systems, environment, industry, etc., and advise you on the best tools to use for maximum productivity and reduced downtime, then you have choose them.
At best, such a provider should be able to regularly schedule meetings to discuss your goals and prepare a technology plan that will accelerate the realization of such goals.
3. Seek to understand their experience, certification and if they offer on-going training
Don’t just take their word for it. Do your research and seek to know if they have enough experience to handle the systems they claim to offer support for. Don’t offer them your system to be used as a learning ground.
Do they have certifications to back their claims? Find out how regularly they are renewed.
Another way of getting to know if they are experienced in the systems they support is to verify with their past work. What was the scope of work and is it relevant to your current and future needs? Did they get good feedback from such engagements?
You also need to check if their employees are getting regular training on the new developments in the systems they are working with and supporting. Also, are they cross-trained? Will they help with training your staff on new systems?
4. Do they understand Data Security?
This is not an optional thing; an IT support company must have expertise in data security. They must be able to craft a security plan that tackles all your current and future needs as well as fitting within a budget you can afford.
And if you are in an industry that’s regulated, then your IT support company must understand all the compliance needs and guide you to always remain compliant.
Also, seek to find if they have invested in on-going training for their data security personnel as this is an evolving field with new threats hitting the headlines now and again.
One last thing here- no company can guarantee 100% no data breach possibility. If they do, it’s either they don’t understand data security or are lying to you to get the contract signed.
5. Clear Response Times must be clearly stated
This is of top priority. Unless you want to wait for days or weeks to get real help (or even acknowledgement of a raised ticket) from your support company when you can’t access your emails or log into your systems, you wouldn’t risk just signing the papers without confirming if there’s an SLA in it. Service level agreements must be outlined in your contract and it must, at best, favour you.
Before you commit to the contract, you must know how long it will take for your issues to be resolved or your tickets to be responded to. Remember that SLAs are mostly indicative of when they’ll respond to your ticket, not get it solved.
Watch out for service providers promising too much as they may be trying to solve your issues using band-aid solutions and not getting to the root cause of the problem.
Additional considerations and questions to ask before signing the contract
If you can cover the above and get precise information on each issue, then you are ready to get going. However, the following are also important considerations and questions to ask for clarity of your engagement.
- Price- how much are they charging for what you need now and going forward? Does it fit within your budget if stretched to your limits? Do they have any offers or discounts you can take advantage of? Are they giving you a breakdown of the price? Are there any hidden costs?
- How big is the company? Does it have a future or able to handle your infrastructure?
- What happens at the cancellation of the contract?
- Are their current clients happy with their services? Ask for references from existing clients. A good IT Support company will provide you with customer testimonials or case studies.
- Are they allocating you a dedicated engineer or support champion?
All these must be covered and well answered before you sign the papers.
Finding the right IT support company for your business can almost be like navigating a minefield but with the right information and attitude, it can be very easy.
So, take your time and do your due diligence before committing to a contract. We hope we’ve helped you with the information covered here.