The advances made in the world of technology are changing the expectations that customers demand from businesses. While some companies can rise easily to meet these new expectations, a lot of small to mid-sized businesses (SMB’s) struggle to do so. Many SMB’s encounter issues related to a lack of budget or the absence of a dedicated IT staff that can integrate and implement new applications. Help is at hand though, as managed IT providers can help businesses identify, explore, and ultimately, implement IT solutions.
There are many factors to look at before making a decision about which managed IT provider will be right for you, we will look at 5 of the key factors to consider when making your decision.
1. Do Their Services and Solutions Fit Your Need?
It’s best to start by taking a look at the structure and systems that you already have in place. What should you improve? Where are your weaknesses? Which area is the most at risk? There are a plethora of solutions out there to choose from, and if you don’t know where to start it’s a lot more difficult to determine which one will be the best fit for your business. For example, is your business using pen and paper for processes that should be digitized by now? Perhaps you have an outdated system? You might even be entering the same data into multiple programs on your computer. A lot of managed IT providers offer a technology auditing service that will give you a better idea of your current situation, allowing you to identify risks and discover new opportunities. Take full advantage of the evaluation period you will have with your managed IT provider, exhaust every question you have in order to understand whether or not they are going to meet your business needs. Find out if they will be able to offer you the specific solutions necessary for your organization.
2. Experience With Clients in A Similar Industry
This is a very important factor in your decision-making process as it will give you a background check on your potential managed IT provider. You can get a good estimation of a provider's capabilities by looking at their past and current clients who are in similar industries to yours. Always make sure to check out your potential managed IT provider’s website, look at their testimonials, reviews, lists of past projects and clients. Ask for a list of references from clients who are in the same industry as you, or directly ask the provider if they can tell you about a past client they have helped who was in a similar situation to the one you find yourself in. Some managed IT providers might be more suited to working with pharmaceutical industries, rather than retail, while others might be cheaper but have a small or inexperienced staff. Always do your research!
A provider can offer solutions that sound incredible — but what level of expertise do they have? They could be an Amazon Web Services certified partner, but what other certifications and qualifications do they have? It’s tough to gauge this, so it’s wise to have a look at the personnel employed by your potential managed IT provider. Look at their expertise and experience, this goes for their employees, their partners, and their founder. Look at their business holistically, measuring their strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and probe further, Your provider is only as good as the staff it employs.
4. Technical Support Ability
It’s very likely that you are searching for a managed IT provider because you have technical support issues, so it goes without saying that this is an incredibly important factor to keep in mind. Look at the reviews of the company left by their past clients concerning their technical support abilities. Are they going to be able to cover your security 24/7, 365 days a year? Ask the company itself direct questions about how they plan to provide technical support and the pricing structure for it. This will give you a clearer picture of the managed IT provider you are going to partner up with.
5. Their Culture and People
This may be number 5, but it’s no less important than any of the other factors. If you were hiring someone to work for your business in-house, you would want to have a good relationship with them. This is no different when you outsource. What is the culture like in the managed IT partner’s office? Are they located close to your office? Will they be able to talk to clients without alienating them by using extremely technical language? The first 4 factors will shine a light on this one. You will initially meet with your managed IT provider’s owners and sales reps, but the day-to-day relationship you have with them will be spent with their support staff. So make sure you talk with some of the support engineers you will be working with on a regular basis. Choose a managed IT provider that has employees that care about your business’ issues and its successes.