Five things to consider when hiring a new IT Provider

Five critical components to consider when hiring a new IT Provider that will prevent you from hurting your business

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Placing your company’s infrastructure and data into the wrong hands can cripple your business. It pays to do your due diligence when choosing your new IT provider. Here are five critical components to consider when choosing the right IT Provider for your business.

Reputation

Outsourcing your IT management may have a lot of benefits, but it can also be a significant risk if not put into the right hands. You want a new IT provider whom you can trust and establish a long-term relationship with. After all, your IT provider has an important role to play in your business, so you want to be dealing with a reputable one with a proven track record. The types of questions you want to ask them are:

  • how long have they been in business?
  • do they have solid references from similar-sized businesses to yours
  • how many staff do they have?
  • what systems and processes do they have to back up their service-level claims?

Response times

Most IT providers will offer a service level agreement (SLA) with a guaranteed response time. This is commonly two hours, but if one of your employees has to wait that long to get working again they’re out of action for 25% of their working day.

In today’s competitive business environment, you need to choose a provider who can guarantee that the majority of your calls will go straight to an engineer, or be dealt with within no more than 30 minutes.

Some providers also offer different support plans with different service levels – e.g. gold, silver and bronze – but, if you can’t afford the highest level, do you want to choose a provider who treats you as a lower-priority client?

Comprehensive services

Ideally your new IT provider will have expertise in a wide area of fields and products. You want a multi-disciplinary solution who can provide:

  • procurement – ability to provide you advice in choosing equipment and handling the procurement, installation and warranty process, saving you money and time
  • domain names and web-hosting
  • experience in dealing with a range of vendors of hardware, software, telephony, networking and internet services
  • software skills – at some point your business is likely to need integrate date, import/export information into/from your databases or application systems, and potentially develop customised software
  • cloud technology

Fixed costs

In the IT-services industry the common term for fixed price support is managed services, and this is what you should look for. You’ll be charged a fixed monthly fee for helpdesk, on-site support and maintenance services.

Time-based charging models mean the more issues you have, the more your IT provider can charge you. Managed services make it in the best interest of the IT provider to have your business running smoothly, with as few issues as possible.

A managed-service plan also offers the benefit of a known IT budget and the added protection of all your IT risks being managed by your provider. This model is becoming increasingly popular among SMEs, and many such plans now incorporate unlimited helpdesk and on-site support services.

Capacity to support your growing business

Finally, when choosing a new IT provider, consider whether they will be able to support your business as it grows in the future. You want to be working with a company that has the experience to assist you with your long-term IT strategy and give you the right advice and solutions to help grow your business.

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