Ask your potential IT provider these six questions
It’s important to do your homework on a company before hiring them
Whether you have a dedicated IT team on staff and need them to be more project focused, or whether you are looking for comprehensive managed IT solutions, it’s important to ask the right questions in order to get the perfect fit for your business. Partnering with an IT solutions provider should be seamless and result in peace of mind. Doing your homework on a company before hiring them is as important as looking up product reviews before purchasing something new for yourself.
Below are some questions that should be asked of any IT company who might be at the top of your consideration list.
1. Ask the IT provider’s current customers how things are going.
A current customer is the best place to begin as they are in the midst of the relationship. Ask them to rate the service and responsiveness of the business representatives and engineers they're working with:
• How satisfied are they?
• Are the solutions they've chosen right for the organization?
• If anything isn’t working, how is the IT provider responding?
If you don’t know anyone who currently works with the company, ask the IT provider to recommend someone you can talk with that is a current customer of theirs. In addition, seek out the IT provider’s website and look for current (no older than six months to a year) customer testimonials and case studies.
2. How does the IT provider support new products and vendor relationships?
A key component for any IT services provider is how committed they are to the products and solutions they sell as well as the vendors they partner with.
If you are going to make an investment based on your service provider's recommendations, make sure they are making the same investment with their partners when it comes to training and certification – are they utilizing new products and solutions, or is everything outdated?
Knowing the IT provider is capable of building and maintaining strong business relationships is something your organization can use to its advantage.
3. Get details on their help desk: is it a dedicated team or are tickets passed around to whomever is available?
If your company is interested in utilizing Help Desk as a way to release internal IT staff from daily fire drills so they can concentrate on more important project work, then be sure to understand how the potential Help Desk will triage incoming calls:
• Are tickets priority-based?
• Is it first-come-first-served?
• How quickly does the Help Desk respond to calls?
• Is the Help Desk based locally with local service representatives?
Understand that when your employees have issues with their desktops, laptops, or tablets, immediate responsiveness from amiable and patient representatives is going to make a big difference — working with an IT service provider whose Help Desk can provide the above makes the day-to-day pain points more tolerable and less time consuming.
4. How reliably does the IT Service Provider respond to both the urgent and mundane requests?
When servers go down, or your business experiences a data breach, how would your potential IT provider respond? Do they have solutions in place to:
• Prevent these things from happening?
• Fix the broken and irreparable?
• Create written policies to better prepare your company for the unexpected?
When your business' reputation is at stake and your own customers are affected, you want to ensure the company you work with engages immediately and understands how to handle each situation that might arise.
5. Are they selling from a script, or offering solutions based on your business needs?
Finally, there's a lot to be said about a company who understands the business needs of the organization they're partnering with. For example:
• Is the IT Service Provider willing to invest the time on an onsite assessment to identify potential technology and security gaps?
• If you're a compliance-based company, do they understand HIPAA, GLBA, PCI, or other regulatory requirements?
6. Are they committed to performing an annual SOC 2 examination?
This is perhaps the most important question you can ask a potential IT partner. SOC 2 is a series of accounting principles that assesses the internal processes service providers put in place to protect the information assets of their clients. Set by the American Institute of CPA’s (AICPA), organizations are measured against Trust Service
Criteria focusing on security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. If the IT Provider you’re evaluating is committed to an annual SOC 2 examination, you can be confident their organization can be trusted to securely manage your critical data and processes.
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you identify which IT Provider is right for you and set you up for a successful relationship.
Matt McGrath is president of Systems Engineering, a managed IT, security and cloud Services firm with offices in Portland, Maine, and Manchester, New Hampshire. He can be reached at 888-624-6737.