Businesses will often turn to outside IT providers to handle a number of technology needs ranging from complete managed services to consultation for specific projects. Each company has its own unique business technology needs, and no matter the needs, you should be able to find an IT provider that can fulfill them.
When vetting IT providers, it is important to evaluate each one as a partner in helping your organization grow rather than someone who is just there to fix something once it breaks. You would put a potential candidate for employment through an exhaustive screening process, so why not do the same for your IT provider?
Let’s take a look at the top criteria to consider when evaluating IT providers:
1. Proactive Services
A hallmark of a valuable IT provider is its ability to offer your business proactive services and maintenance, which often includes monitoring your IT environment. The value of proactive services lies in catching potential problems before they occur and performing preventative maintenance to reduce the amount of downtime your business experiences due to IT issues. An IT provider that only works reactively will respond to a problem after it has already impacted your business. Wouldn’t you rather be made aware of a potential security vulnerability ahead of time rather than finding about it after a breach has already occurred?
2. The Provider’s Size and Structure
Understand the way potential IT providers structure their IT support teams and other resources. You want an IT provider that has enough resources to provide you with the proper level of support, but for the sake of consistency, you want the individuals regularly performing your support to be familiar with your specific IT environment. If you will be working primarily with one IT consultant, inquire about their plan for covering vacations or unplanned absences. The size and depth of an IT provider are important indicators of their ability to dedicate resources to areas like research and development and the vetting of new technologies.
You want to work with an IT provider that employs highly skilled professionals who are experts in information technology. If you ask potential providers if their employees are experts, of course they will tell you “yes,” but wouldn’t it be great if you could obtain additional proof? A great way to evaluate an IT provider’s skills and qualifications is to look at its industry-recognized certifications. Look for important IT certifications that will provide value to your business. If the employees possess numerous certifications, this not only reflects their skillset and ability but also indicates that the IT provider is actively invested in the continuing education of its employees.
4. Consultative Expertise
Many IT providers can troubleshoot issues and support your systems, but an area where certain providers can provide tremendous additional value is in strategic consultation. Your business technology strategy should dovetail with your overall business growth goals, and a provider that offers expert consultation can work with you to accomplish exactly this. This kind of expertise will come from not only a strong understanding of business technology, but also a fundamental knowledge of business. Speak with the individual(s) responsible for strategic consultation and ask “how have you helped a company similar to mine?” It’s a good sign if they have experience working with similar companies in your specific industry.
If an IT provider scores well in all these criteria, they are a company your business should seriously consider working with. Providers that fulfill these criteria will be a company you can rely on as a partner in leveraging technology to grow your business.
For more information on the above criteria and further tips for evaluating IT providers, check out our e-Guide How to Choose the Right IT Provider:
What are some of the challenges your business has faced in IT support? What qualities are you looking for in an ideal IT provider? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.