IT Untangled: How to Find the Right Business IT Support
If you’re like most business executives, IT is at the bottom of your to-do list. You don't start looking for alternatives until you are already frustrated. If you’re here, you’re probably at that point.
There’s no magic in IT – it’s all planning, process, and follow through. So why does it seem so hard to find a good IT company to support your business?
Not all outsourced IT management providers are created equal. Take your time doing research to understand your options. That's the best way to find the reliable, cost-effective, “it just works" support you want.
No magic – only solid game plans for your future.
Where to Look for IT Support
Now that you know what you are looking for, where do you go next? Where we look for anything these days – the Internet, of course.
When you’re comparing websites, dig deep. Don’t just take reviews into account. Happy customers are a great sign, but they aren't the only thing. Check what credentials they have, what awards they have won, if they’re locally based, and if they service companies your size.
A good list of questions to whittle down your search results include:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have clients of similar size to you?
- Do they have enough people on staff to support an organization like yours?
- What awards have they won?
- Do they have client reviews and case studies readily available?
- Do they have expertise in your industry?
- Do they fully manage IT, or just bits and pieces of technology?
Also, take a look at the language on their website. Is there’s too much tech mumbo-jumbo on their website? That’s a good indication of how it will feel working with them too.
You need an IT provider who can make business sense out of information technology.
What to Look for in an IT Provider
Not all IT support companies are cut from the same cloth. They won't all offer what you are looking for. First, identify your goals and your success criteria up front. This will keep you focused on what you hope to get out of your outsourcing relationship.
Ask yourself some questions like: Do you want someone you can trust to just handle it? Or do you want to use different vendors to source pieces of the IT puzzle? Do you want technology planning or are you comfortable doing that yourself?
On your first meeting, take note of how many and what kinds of questions the IT professionals ask about you. Questions should focus on your business plan. The technology that helps you service your customers better. And a sprinkle of tech questions.
After all you are interviewing them, but likewise, they should be surveying if THEY can help YOU.
Questions to Ask IT Support Companies
Here are a few questions you can ask to help tell the difference between the providers you’re interviewing. This list is by no means complete, but it will give you a place to start.
- What's your procedure for handling support requests?
- How long does it take your team to close a ticket, on average?
- What is your process for proactive system maintenance?
- How many resources do you have on staff/are they employees or contractors?
- Are your resources dedicated to one role or do they wear multiple hats?
- What process do you have in place to keep your team accountable?
- What's your role in working with my vendors? Ex: Internet Service Provider (ISP), software vendors, etc.
- What if I need help after hours or on the weekend?
- If I call in for support, how long will I have to wait before I can speak to an engineer?
Answering these questions should be easy for an IT company to answer. Set a plan in motion for any concerns you might have based on their answers. Remember this is their try out; it's okay to get down to the nitty-gritty.
What to Avoid
Buzzwords, acronyms, and things like "I won't bore you with the details, but just trust me,” are red flags. Be ready to cut an interview short if their jargon seems arrogant or fearful. Recap: if they can’t translate information technology into terms you understand, it’s a major red flag. Why are they not willing to share their expertise, do they not have the background to back it up?
Keep away from crisis-based services. Arrangements where you only pay when something is broken is in their best interest, not yours. The benefit of IT outsourcing comes in the proactive maintenance. If an IT company isn’t there for the whole shebang, then they’re profiting off of your problems, not your success. Look for a win-win arrangement.
Providers that only support one brand should be looked at very critically. There’s not one manufacturer that makes the best of everything. Make sure the company isn’t going to push you into products that aren’t right for you just because of the brand. There should always be options.
In a nutshell, know where you are and where you want to go. Choose a company that will focus on YOU – making sure technology enables you to serve your customers better.
It’s a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, technology can either be a propeller or an anchor for a business. There are many IT service providers out there these days, so interview as many as you need to feel comfortable. Critically review their support offerings and which are best for your company’s future.
IT can be complicated. We're here to help "untangle" it for you.
IT Untangled aims to provide clarity on IT topics for business people. This weekly blog series will explain and discuss the complex world of IT, in words you understand.
About Accent Computer Solutions
Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. is a managed IT services and IT support provider, serving businesses with 30-500 employees throughout Southern California. The company is headquartered in Rancho Cucamonga, California, with IT professionals strategically located throughout San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties, as well as Arizona, Texas, and Louisiana.