Five Important Considerations when choosing the Right IT Service Provider for your Business
Choosing the right IT service provider is an important business decision. The right provider can help you streamline operations, develop effective roadmaps and plans, reduce costs, increase revenue, and protect your business from damaging IT issues.
With so many IT companies out there, making a decision on the best IT service provider for your business can be challenging.
Here are 5 important considerations to help you select the right provider:
1. Areas of Expertise
It can be advantageous to choose a company that specialises in your industry and systems so you can be confident that they understand and can support your requirements.
- Does the IT company specialise in particular industries?
- What are their specific areas of expertise or specialisation
- How qualified and experienced are they in such areas?
- Will they offer solutions tailored to your business, or do they work from a template?
As a starting point, many IT providers have something called a ‘Capability Statement’ which is a little like a resume and can help determine at a glance whether they are the right fit for you. It provides a summary of what they do, key areas of expertise, who they work with and what they’ve achieved.
2. Experience and Track Record
Examining a provider’s previous work and track record can also be a great way to understand whether they are a good fit. This can include things such as:
- How long has the provider has been in business?
- Can they supply a list of references or testimonials, and can you speak with some of their current clients?
Case Studies and Results
Do they have client case studies and success stories, outlining examples of previous work and results achieved for their clients?
Certifications and Memberships
There are many certifications available for different IT products and services, and there are also numerous training courses that IT professionals can be certified in. However, from an industry best-practice perspective, you’d expect your IT provider to be certified in the following:
- Microsoft Certified Partner
- VMWare Partner
- VeeamSilverPro Partner
Similarly, research memberships and systems that your provider uses. Some best practice partners to look for are:
3. Availability and Technical Support
If your IT system goes down, you want to know that your provider will act swiftly and expertly to rectify the issue. Before choosing a company, identify the type of systems and support you need so you can understand whether your provider can meet your requirements. For instance:
- What are their helpdesk response times and availability (e.g. 24x7)
- Do you have to log a ticket or can you speak to someone immediately?
- What are their remote monitoring timeframes (how fast will they notify you of, and respond to, an issue)
- What are their guaranteed backup and recovery timeframes?
In addition, does the provider implement proactive issue prevention practices, to minimise or potential issues?
For many companies, cost is the most important factor when choosing an IT provider, however, it should not be the deciding factor.
The cheapest IT provider is not necessarily going to deliver a quality solution, and may actually end up costing you more if you experience poor service delivery.
However, you can at least determine whether your provider is competitive with industry standard rates, and ensure you have a clear understanding of service charges, so you won’t be hit with unexpected invoices.
Pricing models vary, but should be transparent and clear, so be sure to ask the following:
- Do they clearly detail terms of service, rates, and invoicing terms?
- Do they offer pre-paid monthly pricing as well as flexible block hour arrangements for additional work?
- Are there additional charges for call out, after hours and onsite support?
- Are there additional charges for emergency responses? Or maintenance and repairs?
Avoid IT companies who cannot provide you with a clear and detailed pricing structure.
5. Account Management and Ongoing Relationship
You may initially meet with the owner or senior manager when the IT provider is pitching for your business, but ensure your agreement clearly states who your ongoing contact/s will be, and meet with them prior to signing your agreement.
Effective communication is also crucial:
- Who will be your primary contact ongoing?
- Will you have a dedicated account manager or technical manager?
- Will they speak to you in a way that is easy to understand?
- Will they keep you informed when there are issues or recommendations?
- What is the escalation process for any issues or concerns you may experience?
- Do they have best practice record keeping in place so there is clear communication between members of the IT team?
- Will they keep a written record of all work undertaken in case it’s needed in the future?
It can also be highly beneficial to have an IT provider who is interested in forming a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership.
- Do you get the sense that your IT provider is genuinely interested in understanding and helping you to improve your business?
- Are they asking insightful questions about your objectives and long-term goals?
- Do they have good suggestions and a strategic approach as to how you might achieve these goals?
Do your research, take your time, and choose carefully when selecting your IT provider. It should be about building long term, strategic solutions that deliver on your business goals, quality IT service that meets your needs, and a positive working relationship.
We successfully support many businesses across Australia of varying sizes and industries. If you'd like to talk to us about how we can help you support the success of your business then please call us on 1300 478 738 or email us at email@example.com.
About the Author
Geoff Stewart is a highly experienced and skilled Technology Director at Surety IT. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience
having created customised, stable, well performing systems both for multi-national companies in the UK and Australia and Surety IT
Surety IT can help you create the right system to enhance your business, ensuring you know how it is right for you and how to use it. We will tailor a solution to suit your needs with leading systems, local support and more, building your vision for a more flexible and capable business.