Top 10 Tips to Select the Best IT Support Company
You’re gearing up to pick the best outsourced IT company for your business, excited about the potential benefits! But you aren’t 100% sure how to pick the best managed IT services provider. Or maybe you’ve narrowed it down, but now you’re stuck in a dead tie.
Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. has been helping companies develop their best IT strategy for over 30 years. A topic that frequently comes up is, “How can I compare IT support companies? What criteria should I evaluate?”
Since we talk about it often, we’ve compiled a list to help narrow down your search for the right IT support!
10 Tips to Help You Choose the Best IT Support Company for Your Business
1. Find an IT Support Company Local to Your Headquarters
Onsite support is a huge benefit when working with an outsourced provider. Choosing a local IT company means you’ll get faster service if an onsite support issue arises.
Example: Your firewall fails and needs to be replaced. If your IT support company isn’t geographically near you, they may have to find a third-party vendor to help. That could take days depending on their availability.
When a provider’s resources are nearby, dispatching an engineer to resolve your issue(s) is quicker.
If you’re headquartered in the Greater Los Angeles area, a Southern California-based IT support company would be best. If you have multiple branches, ask how support for them is handled. Will they be covered under the same support contract?
2. Does the IT Support Company Have Experience With Your Industry?
Technology varies by industry. A provider who knows the ins and outs of your industry’s technology is vital.
Here are a few questions to ask: Do they service other companies in your industry? Have they been ranked or earned awards in your industry? Are they certified in your industry’s technologies?
3. Can the IT Company Support Your Servers and/or Workstations?
Do your workstations or servers run on something other than Windows? If so, do they have experience supporting your operating systems? Think: Mac OS or Linux. Unless you’re looking to switch infrastructure, finding an IT company that can support your systems is VERY important.
While to most “tech” people are universal, expertise varies. If the company you’re leaning towards can’t support your infrastructure, you won’t get the support you need.
4. Does This IT Support Company Have Experience Supporting Your Company's Software?
What software(s) or application(s) are most critical to your business? Does the IT provider have experience with most or all of them?
Two things to keep in mind: 1) A business with custom applications shouldn’t expect an outsourced IT company to know how to use their software. But they should be able to triage and troubleshoot any problems. 2) Software development/programming and IT are two different fields. You shouldn’t ask your developer to run your IT, and your IT personnel shouldn’t be expected to create or modify your software.
5. How Fast Can You Expect Service When You Need It?
Every company has different processes for supporting their clients – response times vary greatly. Ask for their Service Level Agreement (SLA) or response time metrics, which encompass things like:
- How fast do they respond to issues?
- How quickly are issues resolved?
- How long will it take if you need onsite support?
The proof is in the numbers. Anyone can say they’re “fast,” but can they prove it? They should be able to back up their statements with facts and real-time numbers.
6. Can the IT Company Handle an Organization of Your Size?
Is the IT company large enough to support all your needs? Ask how many engineers they have on staff, in different departments, and ask about their support processes.
Example: Do help desk technicians double as sales people? Or, if there are more phone calls than help desk engineers available, how do they handle it?
7. Can They Scale to Meet Your Needs?
Being in business means knowing that some years you grow, while others are lean. Can your provider work with your yearly needs, especially if your industry is in flux?
8. Do You Meet Their Prerequisites?
What makes you a qualified contender for their services?
Some IT companies require businesses to have a certain number of workstations and/or users to provide support. Or, some require IT infrastructure to change to their uniform standards. Having standards isn't a bad thing, but you need to know what you're signing up for in advance.
Make sure that you are a good fit for each other. Your standards are just as important as theirs.
9. Check for Certifications and Partnerships
Making sure they’re a reputable organization is your responsibility. Typical IT company partnerships include major manufacturers like Microsoft, Dell, and HP. Their staff should also hold certifications of their own. Ask for a list of their current partnerships and certifications.
10. Does the Agreement Work in Your Favor?
There are many types of contracts in the outsourced IT world. Make sure your expectations line up with services they offer.
There are some agreements, such as block time or monitoring contracts, that benefit the IT company. With these, it’s in the IT company’s best interest that you DO have problems so they can charge extra for “additional” services.
BONUS: Look for an IT support contract with proactive and reactive services, for full coverage. With this type of arrangement, the IT company’s incentive is to NOT have problems. A win-win for both of you.
Consider this to avoid surprise charges or feeling duped. Be certain of what you’re signing. If you have questions or concerns, a good IT company will happily explain every part of the contract.
At the end of the day, selecting the best IT support company is about doing your homework. Using this list can narrow down your search in a hurry, but make sure you know exactly who you’re getting into business with before signing the contract.
About Courtney Casey
In an industry dominated by men, Courtney Casey, Director of Marketing for Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., is making her mark on the world of information technology. Courtney has been immersed in the IT field most of her life and has been molded into the tech savvy expert she is today. She began working for Accent while earning her Bachelor's degree from California State University, Long Beach. Known in the Inland Empire as the "Tech Girl," Courtney is a regular columnist for the region's newspaper of record, The Press-Enterprise. Her columns address topical news trends, new technology products, and offer advice on how to embrace technology or avoid common IT pitfalls.