Information technology, or IT, plays a major role in most if not all industries including small to midsize businesses. Depending on the size of your team and your comfort level with technology, you may need to find cost-effective and reliable avenues of outsourcing your IT needs.
However, before you select any outsourced IT provider, realize that not all of those companies are created equal. As a small business owner, preparing a list of questions to ask your IT service provider will help you discover the best company to meet your needs and eliminate the providers who may not be up to par.
Below we list several questions to ask your IT service provider:
A. Who will be the team members helping me?
The first step of selecting your IT service provider is gauging the expertise of your potential team. You not only want to understand the team as a whole, but also the personality and experience of the individual team members. A lot of your decision for this team should be based on whether or not they understand your industry-specific needs and can effectively interpret how IT affects your day-to-day operations as well as your short and long-term business goals.
Be wary of a potential IT service provider who only introduces you to a select few “top-tier” technicians without providing comprehensive details about the other members who may be helping you with your issues.
B. Is your staff help-desk onsite or do you outsource your help-desk to a third party?
Choosing a IT service provider with an onsite help-desk is definitely a crucial selling point. All of the team members will be around each other and will be able to experience training together so that their interactions, procedures and suggestions for your business will be uniform. The decision to staff an onsite help-desk helps to maintain an overall superior customer service experience compared to possible overseas technician that are outsourced to a third-party help-desk.
C. What Cloud infrastructure do you offer for clients?
Most of the IT service providers you look into offer some variation of a cloud solution. However, you must be sure to ask whether the provider’s cloud services fall into a propriety solution or are outsourced to a third-party cloud computing provider. You want to make sure your IT provider offers the absolute highest security security for your data, including any third-party vendors they may use. If the provider does use a third-party cloud computing provider, be sure you understand that provider’s security procedures as well, especially when it comes to responsibility in regards to a breach.
D. What level of automated monitoring will you provide for my business?
Around-the-clock or 24/7 monitoring should be a crucial aspect of your IT service provider’s services. As a small or midsize business owner, any downtime of your company’s website could cost you major business. make sure the provider you are considering has systems in place to eliminate or severely limit any downtime. Also check on the type of remote monitoring and management (RMM) solutions they use as RMMs play major roles in addressing and fixing infrastructure issues before they get out of control.
E. What terms are covered in your Service-Level Agreement (SLA)?
A Service-Level agreement (SLA) represents the contract between you and your prospective IT service provider that specifically details service expectations, regular metrics that measure service success and failure and any kind of penalties for unmet service expectations. You want a strong and specific SLA to prevent any confusion during the course of your contract. One crucial element of the SLA should be the promised support request respond times as that will help you gauge the minimum wait time you will have to endure for certain IT issues.
F. Who else uses or has used your services? Can I reach out to them to gauge their satisfaction with your company?
Just like you would want references for a potential hire at your company, you should also maintain that same attitude when selecting your IT service provider. Before signing any agreement with a provider (even one who impresses you), ask for case studies or contact information on two or three current or former clients. Upon receiving this information, ask the references to list the benefits and challenges that they have had with that particular IT service provider. Ask how the IT service provider solved conflicts and breaches. Ask the reference what they would have changed for their initial agreement.
We hope that this list of questions to ask your IT service provider has helped shed some light on your future decision-making process. If you would like to hear about how CORTEX can help you with your company’s IT needs, contact us to speak with one of our solutions experts.