Deciding on a new IT provider can be tough. IT providers are not your ordinary vendor, but rather a partner in the success of your business. The company that you are going to partner with will have the keys to the castle and should treat your business with the utmost respect.
There is usually one of three reasons why you would be looking for a new provider.
1) The current provider is slow to respond or unresponsive.
2) The customer service is weak or non-existent.
3) You feel that there’s a more progressive technology company.
In this article, you will learn the seven questions to ask any new IT provider about his or her business before you sign an IT Support contract.
What’s your average time to respond?
If you’ve got an IT problem, more than likely, you want a speedy response. That is why you always lead with this question. Take note that most IT service providers will respond within 30 minutes to acknowledge emergencies. That’s why you need to ask this.
What’s the average time to fix a problem?
Of course, it depends on the issue and can sometimes be a difficult question to answer, but the data is there in the company’s help desk system, so ask for this information before the meeting.
Is the service stable?
This question is relatively open-ended, which can backfire with an array of responses. The real insight you are trying to obtain here is what the staff turnover is like. It takes engineers a certain amount of time to get up to speed and become familiar with your IT infrastructure. High turnover can lead to bad service.
How often will I see you?
More than likely, you’ll see an engineer often. However, for the business owner or account manager, this is an entirely different question. Their insight into technology can provide value to you as a business owner, so it’s worth meeting at least once a quarter.
How do you keep up with technology?
Technology is always changing, and keeping up-to-date is critical, especially when it comes to your valuable data and security. Find out how the company trains its staff to be aware and understanding of technology standards. A company that prides itself on always being on the cutting edge and selling the latest technology is not necessarily beneficial to your organization. The latest and greatest can often lead to headaches.
What does the company add to enhance its value?
We have the technical stuff out the way, now let’s ask them what value they can provide to your company. After all, this is a partnership. This open-ended question will allow you to gain some insight. From experience, if you find them talking about how cheap they are, this should raise a red flag instantly. Technology is an investment in your business. Low investments don’t give good returns.
How clear is the pricing structure?
The meeting is over, proposals are in, but how clear is the pricing structure? Do you know how much you’re going to be billed every month? What’s included in the plan? Does the plan cover everything you talked about? Are there any penalties for overages? What’s not included?
Taking on a new partner to manage your IT infrastructure is not an easy task. You are trusting this company to advise and support you, and help you to grow. Take your time in your search for a company. Ask for a try before you buy. Maybe the IT provider can offer a couple of hours or an assessment to give you a better feeling of who you are going to be working with in the future. QCBN
By Theo Soumilas