How To Pick The Right IT Support For Your Business

Many companies decide to outsource some or all of their IT functions. There are lots of IT companies out there offering their services, but finding the right one for your business is not always easy. Putting a business-critical function, like IT, into the hands of someone outside the company can be daunting for business owners. How do you know if a provider is reliable? Is there service good value? What happens if something goes wrong? You can interview potential providers, and ask these questions to help you identify the right support for you.

Where Are You Based?

It doesn’t really matter where your IT support has their head office, but you do need to know where their servers are located. The location is important is the IT support provider will be offering you services like cloud hosting, or VoIP. Server location can affect the quality of your services. Laws around GDPR may also have implications on how your data is stored, especially if your company is a sector with a high level of regulation, such as financial services or the law. 

What Geographical Areas Do You Cover?

You don’t need your IT support provider to be based in the same locations as you anymore. However, you do need to know what areas they can cover, especially if you plan to move your premises in the future, or hope to expand your business into new areas and different countries. You need to be sure that your provider can continue to support you if this happens. 

Do You Offer Different Levels Of IT Support?

Many IT support companies can offer a few different levels of service, which can suit different budgets, businesses, and requirements. For example, you could choose between:

  • Pay-as-you-go or ad-hoc support
  • Break-fix support
  • Managed service support

Look for a company who can offer the level of support that you need and can afford. 

What Exactly Is Supported In The Contract?

You should be wary of any company who claims that they support everything, without giving any detail about what that actually means and what is included in your agreement. It’s not uncommon for companies to think they will get complete coverage, and then to find out that they can actually only log a certain number of support tickets each month, or that certain services have an extra charge. It is far better to have this laid out clearly from the start, so you know exactly what kind of support you will be getting. Otherwise, you run the risk of signing a contract that doesn’t actually suit your business. 

What Isn’t Covered In The IT Support Contract?

You might think that this question is covered by asking what is included in your support, but it is still a good idea to get more detail by asking this question too. There may be some services which are not included in the contract. It’s important to know what may be billed separately so you can accurately budget. If there are any services that are not included in your support contract, then you need to ask about ad-hoc or hourly pricing. 

Do You Have Guaranteed Response Times?

You should expect your IT support provider to have a guaranteed response time when you have a problem. This response time might vary, depending on the level of support that you pay for, and there may be different response times decided on a priority level. For example, for high priority issues, the vendor may guarantee the first response in fifteen minutes, whereas lower priority problems may take longer. 

You need to remember to differentiate between response and resolution times. If your provider just says one hour, for example, clarity if that means that they will respond to you within an hour, or if they will resolve the problem within an hour. 

If a company guarantees that they can resolve an issue in a certain time, you should be cautious. Of course, you should expect to be given a timeframe, but it isn’t possible to guarantee when a problem will be fixed. A repair may take longer than expected, after all. 

Do You Provide Remote Management And Monitoring?

Preventing problems is better than repairing them. You should look for a company that will offer to monitor your systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They should be proactive in their approach, take action to prevent problems which would cause major disruption to your business. 

Will We Get A Dedicated Account Manager?

It can be helpful to have a single point of contact at your IT support provider. This allows you to build a long-term relationship with one person, who will get to know your business and your plans for the future. They can then make sure that your IT aligns with your goals and keeps you ahead of the game. It’s reasonable to expect one or two dedicated contacts who you will deal with. 

Will I Get A Dedicated Engineer?

Unlike an account manager, it’s not reasonable to expect to only work with one engineer. All technical staff have different areas of expertise, so it makes sense for your support provider to assign the engineer best suited to the problem that you’re experiencing. 

Do You Work With Specific Hardware And Software Companies?

It’s not always an issue if a company does work with specific manufacturers, but you should watch out for those who put the relationships with its vendors above the needs of your business. If your provider works with a few different vendors, then they will be better able to find the best solution for what your business needs, rather than focussing only on where that support comes from. 

When choosing any kind of outsourcing for your business, it is important to spend lots of time doing your research. Plan out the questions you need to be answered in advance and don’t be afraid of asking a lot of questions. You need a clear idea of the service offered to be sure that you will get the support that you need. 

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