5 Questions to Ask When Looking for A Managed IT Services Provider
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There are plenty of options when it comes to finding a Managed IT Services provider for your business – how can you tell which is the right choice for you?
These days, business owners are searching for every advantage to put their company on top. With so much competition out there, just a few small issues here and there can result in costly slow-downs to daily work. One of these resides in your IT department. Nothing is more frustrating than broken computers, slow internet service, and expensive service calls.
Things like this can ruin your week and take a huge chunk out of the budget. Though there’s no way to stop computer and network problems from happening, there are ways to minimize your exposure. For small and mid-sized businesses, the solution is Managed IT Services. With Managed IT Services, you can forget about setting up an expensive Server Room and hiring a bunch of highly trained IT people. You’ll probably only need a handful of IT people on staff to handle simple issues that crop up in day-to-day business.
The problem comes with the fact that there are so many IT service providers these days and so it can be difficult to find the one that works best for your company. To help, check out these five timely tips to help you find the right IT service provider so you can get back to the job of running your company.
Tip One: The Budget
Although having the best IT support for your company is important, sometimes managed service providers are keen on trying to sell you expensive services that you really don’t need. To avoid this scenario, sit down with your on-staff IT people and talk about exactly what services your company needs to stay up and running. Speak to your accountant and make sure about the monthly amount that will fit comfortably into your budget. All companies are nervous about data breaches these days; they can be expensive and stressful. However, don’t let that push you to buy over-priced services that you really can’t afford and don’t need. For some companies, hiring a consultant to advise you is a good solution.
Tip Two: Understand Your Contract
Too many business owners get locked into long-term contracts that they can’t afford. Make sure you understand exactly what your contract includes. How often can you call for service? Some companies allow unlimited service calls for just a few extra dollars per month. This can be a good way to go if your computer equipment is getting old and might break down more often than new equipment. Another issue is whether the contract includes regular updates to software and hardware.
One of the biggest issues that companies face is the evolution of technology. Every year, technological capabilities develop at phenomenal rates; it’s hard to keep up. There are new devices, gadgets and social media sites that demand faster computers and networks. Managed IT Services should keep you up to date with the latest advances in business technology.
Tip Three: Stay Proactive
The whole point of Managed IT Services is that you have someone else to handle network and computer problems. As with all service providers, some are just better at their jobs than others. Make sure your Managed IT Services provider believes in staying proactive. Avoid providers who only come out when there’s a problem. You need a company that will stay on top of all the latest threats. One data breach could drive you into bankruptcy, so it’s important for your IT support provider to make sure your computers are ready for whatever may come.
Often, you can find out about things like this by reading online reviews of the company. Have they had any complaints filed against them? How long have they been in business? Don’t let a fast-talking salesman sell you on a company with two employees that just opened its doors. Find someone that has a great reputation and has been in business for years. You want to work with providers who will stand behind their services and won’t stop until you’re satisfied.
Tip Four: Is it Scalable?
Hopefully, your business is growing. What will happen if you need to add five new computers? IT services should grow as your company grows. You don’t need to understand all the intricacies of cost optimization, cloud services, and scalability, but you should know what it will cost in terms of money and time when your company begins to grow. Ask intelligent questions about colocation and virtual infrastructures.
Many business owners are not well versed on these topics but your company’s IT professionals should be. You need IT people you can count on; not people who try to dazzle you with big words. Your on-staff IT team should be working proactively each day to ensure ongoing network services and a sound infrastructure. Hire the best people you can afford and expect them to do their jobs.
Tip Five: Ask the Right Questions
In the world of Information Technology, there’s quite a bit that the average business owner doesn’t know about. For instance, will the Managed IT Services provider perform regular security updates and patch management? These are both crucial to preventing cyber breaches. Will they perform network monitoring and send alerts when something looks out of order?
A new service provider should begin your professional relationship by performing a vulnerability and risk assessment. This will tell you whether your software and hardware are up to par. Is your equipment set up to handle the massive number of new cyber threats that are hurled at businesses each year?
How many times have you waited all day for a service provider to show up? This is stressful and costly for any business owner. Ask if the IT provider has a guaranteed response time. It can also be very helpful to have 24/7 Helpdesk support. Be sure this is included in your contract.
Many managed IT providers also offer additional services that can be very helpful, such as consulting and project management – make sure you ask about these services, and whether they come with an extra charge. The more you know, the better.
Your company may not be at a place right now in terms of growth, where you can sustain an expensive long-term Managed IT Services provider. If this is true, look around for no contract, pay-as-you-go providers. Many IT pros offer this as an option but they may not say so right up front, so be sure to ask about it.
Look for companies that offer flexible plans for small businesses. Everyone has been in the position of just starting out and needing to save money wherever possible. Companies sometimes have slumps in sales. You have to plan for every contingency. While you do need the most reliable IT services available, they should be professionals who are willing to work with you. Businesses that succeed often have skilled partners who have their back and that’s not too much to ask of your Managed IT Services provider.
Don’t settle when it comes to your Managed IT Services provider – put the time and effort into finding the right one for your business needs, and you’ll soon see the positive effect it can have on you and your staff’s daily work.