Are you wondering if you’re doing enough to manage your company’s IT infrastructure? If so, you aren’t the only person asking that question. With how much companies rely on tech today, you can’t afford to fall behind with your company’s technology adoption.
Unfortunately, it gets expensive to hire an IT team in-house. That’s why outsourcing IT services to other companies are so popular. Believe it or not, 72% of outsourcing contracts are for some type of information technology support.
IT support can make a big difference when you find great providers, but you need to know what to look for before you start. Use the 12 tips below to find an IT support service that can provide the level of service your business deserves.
1. Consider the Hours You Need Support
You probably won’t have a problem finding an IT company that can support you during normal business hours. It’s not hard to find people who are willing to work during those times. However, that may not be the only time you need support.
If your company is like many others, you have employees that want alternate work arrangements. They want to work from home and during the evening instead of working in the typical office environment.
Doing this isn’t a problem if you have the tools to make it happen. But things can go wrong during the evening, preventing people from doing their jobs.
You need to consider the hours your employees have because of this. You can lose a lot of lost productivity if people experience problems in the evening and nobody is around to fix things.
Many IT support services offer 24/7 support, so find a provider with that capability.
2. Look at Communication Methods
Finding an IT company that communicates on your terms is critical. If something goes wrong, you may want to get someone on the phone as soon as possible. The problem is that some IT companies may not offer that chance.
Some companies work on a ticket system. You log on to a web portal and submit a ticket. If someone is available, they get assigned a ticket to reach back out to you.
This may work well in the majority of situations, but it doesn’t work great if you need help immediately.
It can be frustrating if you’re having severe problems and can’t reach someone on the phone to get help. Ask a company how they handle situations like this and what you can expect for response times.
You need to find a company that works with you on your terms instead of adapting to your provider’s wants.
3. Figure Out the Services You Need
There are many services that IT providers offer. You can keep things simple and hire a company on demand to get help. Or you can hire someone for more advanced IT jobs that you can’t handle alone.
You need to figure out exactly what you need and find a business that offers those services. Here are a few common IT roles you can hire for:
- Report generation
- Troubleshooting help
- Database administration
- Network cabling
- Network design
There are also other areas of IT that you can use if you work in specific industries. Once you have a list of the fields you want to cover, check the services pages of the IT company websites you’re considering.
If you find a company you really like and don’t see any public information about something you need, give them a call to see if they have any specialties that they don’t show in public.
4. Determine Your Service Level
Once you figure out what services you need for your company, you’ll need to see what pricing options you have in your area. There are many options available that you can scale to your exact needs.
Working with a company hourly is a great option if you’re a small company and don’t have many requirements. You can call your service provider when you have small issues and get help resolving those problems.
Since you probably won’t need help at all times, this will probably be a more affordable option for you. The chances are good you’ll only pay for a few hours every month, which is much cheaper than hiring an employee on your payroll.
Some companies also offer monthly retainers for companies that need a set amount of work. You get a specific number of service hours every month and can get help as soon as you make a call to your IT provider.
5. Look for Vendor Experience
There are many components to IT that are general. Anyone that knows about computers can figure out how to work on these systems. However, certain vendors aren’t the same and have unique characteristics that make the more challenging to deal with.
That’s why these vendors have certifications that qualify IT companies as specialists. Microsoft, HP, Intel, Cisco, and other computer companies create these certification courses and require companies and employees to qualify as a specialist.
If you have any vendors like these, it makes sense to look for an IT specialist with those qualifications. Remember, though, that this doesn’t mean an IT company can’t handle the job if they don’t have this experience. But it does reduce the chance of you hiring a company that has to learn on the job to learn how your infrastructure works.
6. Check for Security Experience
Even if you don’t need much IT help, security services are something you shouldn’t overlook. It doesn’t matter if you have a large or small company. When 43% of small businesses are the targets of data breaches, you can’t take cybercrime lightly.
You need to have a robust security system if you want to avoid getting hacked. You need firewalls, anti-malware, monitoring tools, training, and much more to avoid problems.
Managed IT services know this. Most companies employ security experts who can look at and monitor their customers’ systems to look for problems. Once your system gets examined, you’ll get a report and suggestions on how you can improve your company’s security.
7. Ask About New Tools
One of the great things about getting help with IT is access to new tools. Much of the software out there is easy to set up. You install your software on your computer desktops and are ready to go.
Unfortunately, not all software is that simple. You need to set up servers, install databases, and much more to get things working correctly.
Ask your IT providers what software they can help you set up in your office. You can acquire automation tools to reduce the work you need to do during the day and communication software that makes working together easier.
An IT company should be able to offer recommendations after you let them know your current setup and needs, so don’t be afraid to get a feel for what a company can offer.
8. Verify Outsourcing Practices
Not all managed IT support service handles hiring the same way. Many companies hire all their own employees. They put people through the interview process, run background checks, and do everything else related to hiring.
However, not every company hires employees on the payroll. Instead, they turn to freelancers to get talent for their customers.
There’s nothing wrong with this practice, but you should know about it before you hire a company. Not every freelancer gets vetted on the same level as regular employees. You must understand the vetting process before committing to working with a company that outsources work.
9. Look for Proactive Support
You can get great IT support from a company that quickly handles problems. You get minimal downtime and don’t have to worry about people being unable to do their jobs. However, you’ll only get so far when going this route.
Every second your computer systems stay offline leads to lost productivity. That leads to lost revenue in the worst-case scenario.
It makes more sense to look for problems before they cause your systems to go down. You can find many of these problems by investing in proactive monitoring support.
IT managed services can install monitoring software on your equipment that reports back potential errors. Once your IT team gets these reports, they can check your systems more in-depth to see if they can get ahead of any problems.
That means you can get your systems fixed before you experience any downtime. While you may not catch every issue with proactive monitoring, you can catch many serious problems.
10. Check for Reputation Issues
Even if a company has the technical skills to handle the job, it doesn’t mean you should hire them. Some companies have communication problems, skill gaps, poor tools, and many other issues.
Unfortunately, you won’t learn about these problems when speaking with these types of companies. They’ll have a great sales pitch that paints them in the best light possible.
That’s why you need to check a company’s reputation before hiring them. Check for online reviews to see what previous customers have to say. You can also reach out to other business owners to see which IT companies they have the best experiences with.
If you can’t find any companies with managed IT experience, ask the companies you interview if they have references. Great companies shouldn’t have a problem providing a few satisfied customers to speak with.
11. Look for a Local Presence
You can do a lot of IT work remotely. New remote tools allow people to connect to computers from anywhere in the world. That makes IT support quick and easy when you don’t have a presence in an office.
While this isn’t an issue for many IT issues, it can lead to problems if you have no local presence. You may encounter a few IT issues you can’t troubleshoot from another location. Computers may not be able to come on or fail to start properly, so you need local IT support to troubleshoot the problem.
You won’t be able to get this support if your IT provider doesn’t have a local presence. You’ll have to stay on the phone with your support representative to try and fix the problem.
Working with a local provider who can come into the office to fix problems like this makes more sense. You don’t need to have an employee in the building at all times and can still receive remote support. But someone must be able to head to the office if you ever run into a more serious problem.
12. Verify Your Scaling Ability
The IT resources you need today may not be enough for a few months from now. Your needs can change fast when running a business. Your IT team needs to be able to scale with your requirements.
Unfortunately, some IT providers out there are small and have limited resources. You may struggle to keep up if your IT provider can’t provide the support you need during busy times.
The team you hire needs to be able to scale to your demands at a moment’s notice. Ask a company how many people they have on payroll and what it takes to get more support.
You won’t need to go through any hiring process to get the help you need. In most cases, all you have to do is call your support representative and request more help.
Don’t Jump Into Hiring an IT Support Company
You’re looking for a long-term partner when you hire IT managed services. The last thing you want to happen is to hire a company that can’t handle the job and end up with an IT infrastructure that doesn’t meet your needs.
That’s why it’s critical to do enough research when you look for IT support. Follow the tips above during your search for an IT support company to find a company that will meet all your company’s needs.
Check out the blog if you want to find more helpful advice that will help you grow your business.