How to choose a managed IT service provider for your business
The 12 questions to ask before selecting an IT service provider
As a business owner, you need your IT systems to be reliable, efficient and secure so that you can focus on your day to day responsibilities.
Partnering with a managed IT service provider is likely the best way to ensure that your technology is delivering on those promises, but choosing the right provider can be overwhelming.
It’s important for you to choose an IT partner who will support your business every step of the way, with the capabilities to help you grow and succeed.
To help you make your decision, we’ve created a list of the top 12 questions you need to ask before choosing your new IT company.
#1: Are you a local company?
One of the central benefits of outsourcing your company’s IT services is access to onsite technical support from experts. Choosing a local IT company allows you to get faster, more reliable onsite support when necessary.
Some IT companies may have multiple branches throughout your state or the country, but it’s unlikely that you’ll get the same level of service as a local service provider.
#2: What types of services do you offer?
It’s important that you decide what aspects of your business you want an IT company to support and then ensure their services align with your needs before making a final decision.
Visit the company’s website to explore their IT packages and services and form a list of questions for them based on your research. Pay close attention to if they have an IT package tailored to your industry and any add-on services that could be beneficial for your business.
#3: What is your typical response time to service requests?
Every managed IT service provider has a different process for supporting their clients, so it’s important to understand a company’s procedures before partnering with them.
You should consider what level of service you need from your managed services provider (MSP) and ensure they can meet those needs. Consider if you need them to be available after hours and on weekends. Think about how fast you expect them to respond and resolve issues—both remotely and onsite.
It’s generally recommended that you find an IT company that offers frequent system monitoring, reasonably quick onsite response time, and 24/7 remote monitoring and management.
#4: What reputable technology companies do you partner with?
Every managed IT service provider will have trusted technology partners, but it’s your job to ensure those partnerships can provide your business with the best IT solutions on the market.
Typical IT partnerships include companies like Dell, HP, and Microsoft, but some service providers may partner with companies you’ve never heard of before. Conduct research on those lesser known companies to check their reputation and scalability, and ask the IT company why they’ve chosen those partners over others.
#5: How deep is your understanding of best cybersecurity practices?
Regardless of your field, cybersecurity is currently one of the most vital services you could receive from a managed IT service provider.
Explore the IT security packages offered, paying close attention to any compliance services you need for your industry. Ask the company as many questions about cybersecurity as you can to gauge their level of expertise on the subject. Visit their website to see if they have any blogs on the topic to further understand their security services.
#6: How do you ensure data is secure and backed up?
In an age of increased natural and digital disasters, securing and backing up your company’s data is critical.
Every managed IT service provider will have different backup services available to their clients—some may offer disaster recovery plans while others will offer a variety of server backup options. You have to decide what your business needs and ensure your potential IT company offers those services.
#7: What methods are taken to help prevent company downtime?
An IT issue often means downtime, but a good managed IT service provider should have an array of tactics to prevent and reduce downtime for your business during a disaster.
IT services such as 24/7 monitoring and regular comprehensive audits are methods used to stop potential issues from happening in the first place which in turn prevents downtime. Your potential IT company should also have methods to reduce downtime in the event of an unexpected IT issue, so that your business operations continue to run smoothly.
#8: Do you have experience in my industry?
Choosing a managed IT service provider that has successfully supported clients in your field in the past is a huge asset to your business. It allows you to receive support from IT experts that know the ins and outs of your profession as well as the importance of any compliance guidelines for your industry.
#9: Do you have experience supporting the software we use?
Depending on your industry, your business has certain software that you rely on to deliver your products and solutions. It’s important for your company to ensure your potential managed IT service provider has prior experience with most or all of your essential software.
Keep in mind that your IT partner can’t be expected to create or modify your company software—managed IT service providers and software developers are two different entities.
#10: What is included in and what is the length of a contract?
Every good business owner knows the importance of a contract. Just like you would in any other partnership, you need to thoroughly understand your managed IT service provider’s contract before signing.
There are many different types of IT contracts, so make sure the agreement includes all of the services your company needs for the long term.
If you’re not sure what you need, try finding a contract with proactive and reactive services. This type of service level agreement incentivizes your IT partner to not have any issues with your systems as opposed to block time or monitoring contracts.
#11: Will I have a dedicated point of contact?
Some IT companies might have a different person assisting you with every remote or onsite issue for your company. While this isn’t necessarily a negative, it can cause inconsistencies with your service.
It’s best if your potential managed IT service provider has a dedicated point of contact or a small team of technicians that regularly assist your business. A consistent team means that someone will always understand the intricacies of your IT systems and in turn be able to fix any issues quicker than a technician with no prior experience.
#12: Can you provide me with a list of companies you work with that I can contact for references?
Finding a managed IT service provider with positive online or word-of-mouth reviews is essential to providing your business with the best possible IT support.
Start by browsing Google and Facebook reviews to see if people are speaking positively about the company, their employees, and the services they provide for their business. If the IT company doesn’t have any online reviews, request a list of companies they work with that you can contact for references.
Choosing the right managed IT service provider for your business is all about taking the time to do your research and finding someone to help improve your operational efficiency. Your service provider will become one of the most important partners for your business, so make sure you feel you can trust and communicate with them.
Looking for a managed IT service provider to help you succeed?
At InterNetwork IT, we’ve been providing IT services for businesses of all sizes across Central Florida for almost 10 years. We have a wide range of solutions equipped to handle your IT needs with experience in the medical and legal fields as well as services for updated phone systems and IT security.
Ready to get started?
Contact us today to learn more.