Choosing an IT support provider can be very important. With so many players in the market, the choices are confusing, and there are many factors to consider. We’ve created this guide to help you select a partner for your IT service and support.
We mention this first because it is by far the most important factor. Do you feel that this IT service and support provider truly understands your business?
You should be able to talk to IT services and support providers in purely business terms. In other words, you must be able to describe the problem you are having, or the result you are trying to achieve, without even referring to specific software, hardware, or technology. Your IT services and support partners should be able to build bridges between your expressed needs and the technical details of their solutions, and explain their proposals in terms you can easily understand.
There is more to a business focus than just operational details. Cultural factors are also important. Will this IT service and support provider match?
Remember, these members of the IT service and support team will visit your premises, deal with your staff and perhaps train them on how to use new software and hardware. New IT systems bring change, and change is something that is difficult for many people. You’re looking for someone who can offer the right level of IT support and is patient, regardless of how technically literate your team is.
If you are considering investing in IT, or an ongoing IT services and support contract, you’ll want your potential provider to send you a written proposal outlining their recommended approach. As you review it, here are a few questions to consider:
- Is the proposal legible? Has the supplier made the effort to express his ideas in plain English, so that you can understand him as a general businessperson? Have the technical terms been explained, or can you easily ask the supplier for an explanation?
- Is the price clear? Are you sure that the price you see is the price you would pay for your IT service and support, without any hidden extras?
- Can you compare? Have IT service and support providers made it easy for you to compare likes and likes and ensure prices are competitive?
- Are the third party brands included in the proposal convincing? Is your IT service and support provider proposing a leading, prominent IT brand, or an exclusive solution you’ve never heard of?
- Does it feel customizable? Do you feel that a supplier is really trying to build a solution around your business’s IT services and support needs, or are they trying to push you to a product they like?
Price and value
Obviously, price is a factor in your choice of IT service and support partners. Get proposals from multiple suppliers and compare prices between them by all means – but make sure you compare likes to peers. If prices differ, pay close attention to what is actually being offered. You need to understand the heart of the business value each proposal has to offer, which usually means looking beyond the price and understanding exactly what to send, and how it will support your business.
The breadth of expertise
IT services and support is church wide, covering a wide variety of areas including networking, servers, email, mobile communications, backup, remote support, data storage, accounting and operational support, VoIP telephone systems, and more. A key point to consider is whether the supplier can offer IT service and support in every area that is relevant to your business – now, and in the future.
The qualification of a reputable third party is an important indicator of the IT service and support provider’s skills and applications. Accreditation such as being a Microsoft Certified Partner is hard to get, only for companies that can demonstrate consistent and reliable skills and prove their knowledge with leading brand name products. Ultimately, world-leading companies like Microsoft are not taking risks with their brands – but, at the same time, they need IT services and support providers who can deliver their products to customers effectively. Check out high-profile accreditations for evidence that you are dealing with a reputable, committed, and highly professional IT support and services company.
Closely related to the question of breadth of expertise is the issue of integrated IT services and support. Having many skills is great, but real value is generated when they all come together to serve your business.
For example, an IT service and support provider who can offer Unified Communications services will be able to integrate your email, fax and telephone communications into one seamless system, leveraging the wide range of expertise in the process.
Although many IT service and support functions can now be performed remotely, the physical location of your IT services and support partners is still important. In an emergency, will they be able to contact you quickly and immediately take care of the problem? What commitments can they make in terms of response speed?
Many IT service and support clients choose distant suppliers based on cost or expertise, only to find that they can never see the people who are supposed to ‘back’ them. Make sure you are confident that you will get the level of support you are paying for. Ask to see customer testimonials or case studies, and consider contacting your prospective IT service and customer support supplier directly.