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Ten Questions To Consider When Choosing Your IT Provider

Mark Ambler, Managing Director

All successful businesses need highly skilled IT providers capable of implementing new technologies and adapting them in innovative ways. If you don’t already have an in-house team, how do you choose the right provider for such an important job?

These 10 questions should help you make the right choice:

  1. Are they really experts? Professionals who have been in business for years - even decades - and have industry accreditations are likely to be able to give you the expertise you need. With their knowledge of both hardware and software, they offer all services under one roof, enabling your managers and employees to focus on their work and not managing IT functions.

  2. What is their specialist knowledge? Look for specialists in the systems and tech solutions your business works with. For example, if you are using Microsoft, choose a business that has an official relationship/partnership with the vendor, as they have been recognised as competent specialists, thereby guaranteeing quality.

  3. Who are their other clients? If the provider’s clients are in the same industry or sector as you, the chances are they will have a better understanding of your needs. Ask if you can speak to some of their current clients or obtain testimonials to review.

  4. Do they supply designated managers? A good IT services provider deploys a team to integrate your new services step by step.

    First of all, technicians explain how the start-up process works, simplifying things and reducing transition times as much as possible.

    Then an account manager and a technical advisor provide a personalised service through regular meetings in order to ascertain your short and long-term business needs, finding the right solutions.

    Finally, a Service Delivery Manager will keep you informed and respect your time frames and budget.

  5. Do they provide remote assistance at all times? IT assistance must be permanently on hand or your employees will be powerless to work when problems occur. Good IT providers have teams of technicians to respond to you immediately, in addition to an emergency 24/7 helpdesk service to assist with troubleshooting over the phone.

  6. What’s their strategic plan? A good IT plan is usually phased over three years. A budget is established to provide the quality you need while leaving room for development. This plan is accompanied by a post-disaster recovery plan, therefore you are covered if the worst was to happen.

  7. Do they invest in their employees? One of the main advantages of an arrangement with an IT managed services provider is the access you have to their wide range of skill sets. This can provide you with people who can solve the specific IT problems your business may encounter. A good IT managed services provider will invest in their employees by furthering their knowledge and provide training programmes.

  8. The use of jargon – or the avoidance of jargon - can either communicate competence in a field or alienate people who need to know more about it. A good IT service provider at sales or support level will ensure you feel trust and comfort, not confusion and annoyance.

  9. Are they financially stable? Check how long have they been in business and you could even run a credit check and make sure their information tallies with that at Companies House. This is important because if your IT Support provider goes out of business, you could face significant problems when it comes to data back-ups, licences and other technical intelligence held by them.

  10. Do they work within a quality management system? The use of a quality management systems such as ISO 9001 or ITIL ensures the IT service providers consistently seeks to meet and exceed customer expectations and looks to systematically improve performance. It also focuses the business on management responsibility, quality objectives, human resources, infrastructure, vendor relations and continual improvement. 

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