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Is Your Technology Partner Right For Your Business?: 10 Key Questions To Ask

by | Nov 2, 2011 | IT Consulting

Partnership Puzzle PartnershipThere are many reasons companies look to outsource their IT.

Small business look to move away from the headache of trying to manage their IT internally, midsize companies needing to grow need extra resources while larger organizations may want to free up internal IT resources to focus on more strategic endeavors. Regardless of the reasons, most companies will need to acquire technology to keep a competitive edge.  With more servers, desktops, laptops, mobile devices and applications comes added complexity to the central nervous system of any business operation. Now more than ever is the need for many businesses to build a relationship with a trusted outsourced Technology partner.

OK, I know I need to outsource by my IT but how do I go about choosing the right IT service partner for my business?

All technology service providers are not the same since each service provider specializes in certain technology.  Make sure to take some time to evaluate a potential technology partner because it not only can save you time and money, it is a very critical step in the safeguarding the future success of your company.

Our Checklist of Selecting the Right IT Service Provider for Your Business

  1. What resources do you have to cover (Your Technology Audit)? A good technology service provider should be able to help you with this. They should be able to evaluate your IT systems and help you to determine what IT resources you have and how to prioritize them. This inventory or technology audit is very important and will help determine the amount of support needed as well as identify any critical issues that may need to be addressed.  Many service providers offer this as a free service in hopes to gain your business while others may charge a fee depending on the complexity involved in such an audit. Either way this is a very valuable asset to have in determining your technology needs.
  2. How important is each resource? Once you know what IT resources you have, it is important to rank them according to how critical they are to the company. Not all resources will require the same level of support.
  3. What do you need to fix and how long will it take? A service provider should be able to give you a range of issue resolution times. These times will vary with issue and may be priced differently.  A good service provider should spend some time with you explaining how different issues are handled and set expectations for resolution times. Many IT issues can be handled / resolved remotely in very little time while others may take an onsite visit to manage. Knowing your resources and how important they are to your company’s bottom line should help you determine if the service provider can offer you and acceptable resolution time.
  4. How will you communicate with your service provider? Different providers have different preferred modes of communication. Some will have a dedicated support phone line while others may have an online system where you can log in and report an issue or create a ticket. It is very important that your provider give you clear instructions on how they handle service requests.  Make sure that you have all needed modes of communication. Ask how they handle emergency requests and how soon they would be able to get someone onsite to handle a critical issue.
  5. Is 24/7 coverage available? If your company needs 24/7 coverage, make sure that you know how the service provider handles calls or service requests after normal business hours. Some providers may have a different mode of communication during off hours or holidays. A good service provider should be able to properly inform you how to reach them during these times. Many Managed Service Providers can offer 24/7 monitoring within their service contract agreements that would include 24/7 monitoring of critical resources such as servers and workstations. Meaning any issues that happen during off hours would be handled and fixed remotely before you would become aware of them.
  6. Can the IT service provider support multiple locations? Ask about the geographic scope of service coverage from your provider. If you have various locations around the county or world make sure they have the resources available to handle issues at these locations.
  7. Is software covered? To cut down on finger pointing, Ideally you want a provider who can handle hardware and your software requirements.  You want a vendor partner who will step up to the plate and get to the bottom of the issue and get it fixed.  That means you need an IT partner who is able to deal with your most critical software, whether it is virtualization or tools or applications such as e-mail. Not all providers will be experts in all areas but they should be willing to manage and communicate well with your other technology vendor partners in supporting your overall network.
  8. What services are provided for mobile users? Questions to ask about support for mobile users range from how quickly can I get my defective, lost or stolen device replaced to what specific devices the provider supports. People are increasing becoming more mobile and conducting business on smart phones and tablets. Find out if your service provider intends to support these devices or how willing they are to communicate and work with the mobile device vendor you are using.
  9. How reputable is your provider? When entrusting a service provider with your IT network, arguably one of the most business critical area of your business, it would be a good idea to check references.  A good provider typically will have good references and satisfied customers.
  10. Does your service provider know your business? You would want to select a provider that has experience servicing other businesses in your industry or one that is committed to learning your business and your business objectives. It is a huge benefit to have a technology partner on your team that has already met the challenges of your particular industry and can pass the results of their experience on to you through their work.  A true technology partner will be committed to understanding your business objectives in addition to managing your IT needs.

As you can see there is a lot that goes into deciding who to outsource your IT to.  This checklist will help as you interview IT service provider prospects.  Having a trusted, experienced technology partner on your team will allow you to focus on your business objectives not your technology.

At Intec Solutions, we’ve been in business long enough to have seen a number of IT service providers come and go.  Intec Solutions comes through in all 10 areas for our customers every day and it’s the reason we’ve been in business with a healthy customer base since 1997.   If you are in need of a trusted IT service partner, please contact us (859) 757-2804 today!

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