Choosing the right IT service provider is an important decision which impacts the growth and profitability of your company.
The relationship you develop with an IT service provider is a very intimate one, similar to what you have with an Accountant and you need to make sure that you ask the right questions before entering into an agreement.
The following are 7 important questions you should consider asking :
How stable is the business?
How long an IT service provider has been in business and whether they have the capability to service your business in the long-term is an important consideration.
If your business is expanding and you are planning to grow from 10 people to 25 people in the space of a few months, will the IT service provider be able to support your business as you scale up? Do they have the experience and expertise to accommodate the growth or will they play around and hope for the best outcome?
What procedures are used to keep employees in the loop?
What procedures and policies does the IT service provider have in place to make sure that if Joe comes into your office to fix something, Amy the next IT person who comes in will not have to relearn everything that’s been done.
This is a really important question, because if you’re paying an hourly rate, a new employee could take three hours to complete a task which should take just minutes which would also affect your team’s productivity.
Is the technology on offer suitable for your business?
The IT service provider should have the right technology and systems in place otherwise your business will have problems competing with other businesses.
The right technology is important for your business to stay competitive. What technology stack your IT service provider uses may sound like a really geeky question but it’s really about finding out important issues such as whether they’re following best practices, using a quality antivirus product and remote monitoring tools.
What is the level of after-hours support included?
If you need emergency support at eight o’clock in the night will someone answer your call?
Very often, IT service providers will offer a solution at a price that appears very attractive, but this may come at the cost of priority support.
When comparing costs, make sure to find out about the level of support being offered. In the event your website or online store crashes, you need the support required to be able to get your business up and running quickly.
What is the duration of product licencing?
Very often businesses get into an agreement with an IT service provider without a clear idea about the duration of included product licences.
What can happen in this case is that you may sign up for a three-year contract with an IT service provider and a year later, the provider will indicate that the antivirus is due to expire and that you need to pay a fee to renew it.
Renewal of licences for software and other products can add significantly to costs, and finding out about these before signing a contract can help you keep technology costs in check.
How will data be backed up?
Your IT service provider should have systems in place to back-up data so it can be recovered at any time in case it is lost for any reason.
Find out who will have access to your data and where it will be stored, whether locally on computers and servers or in the cloud.
Which compliance frameworks are supported?
Compliance mistakes can prove to be extremely costly. There are several legislations, specifications, industry standards and regulations – both which are already in place and the ones which can crop up in the future.
The importance of compliance varies depending on the business and as verticals it serves. Before asking the question, it is important to find out about compliance issues related to your business.
The IT service provider you choose should be able to guarantee meeting compliance requirements as part of their service level agreement. This should include regulations which are expected to arise over the next 6 to 12 months.