7 Key Questions to Ask Your IT Provider
Technology is the backbone of many, if not all, businesses. To keep their technology running smoothly, organizations require IT support. Some choose to hire in-house, but many others decide to outsource. Outsourced IT provides many benefits, but finding the right IT provider can prove difficult. If you are comparing different providers, here is a list of 7 key questions you should be asking.
1. What is included in my monthly pricing?
Managed service providers have many different ways of charging for their services. And each provider’s monthly price will cover a variety of services. Before partnering with a specific provider, it’s important to understand what services you will be paying for and how.
Some companies advertise a base monthly rate but charge for many small things, like setting up a new computer. Ask providers early on what services they include in their pricing to avoid any hidden fees. Then you can discuss with them what services you are looking for and how much they will cost. You can go with a provider that offers an all-encompassing model, or one that goes with a more a la carte style of pricing.
2. Do you charge extra for after-hours work?
Similar to understanding what services a provider covers, it’s also important to understand if your IT provider charges differently depending on what time of day it is. For example, some companies will charge a higher rate for any work done after business hours or on the weekends.
You’ll want to know if this is the case before you sign any contract or enter a partnership. You may still end up going with a company that charges for after-hours work over a company that doesn’t, but then you will be prepared. You don’t want to end up with something broken after-hours and then be stuck paying a higher rate than you were expecting.
3. What compliance frameworks do you support?
If your business has to comply with any regulations, you’ll want to ensure your IT company has experience working with those regulations. Working within compliance frameworks means managing data differently. So, ask them what compliance frameworks they support. Do they have expertise working within HIPAA regulations or the California Consumer Privacy Act?By ensuring they have experience with your compliance framework, you can trust they know how to handle your data.
4. Am I able to scale my services with you?
One of the many benefits of outsourcing your IT is the ability to scale your services up or down, depending on your needs. However, some organizations make it much easier to scale than others. So, check the flexibility of any potential providers.
For example, are you limited to a contracted amount of months before you can scale down any services, or will they work with you when you need them?
5. How many technicians do you have, and how do they interact with my business?
Your organization has access to a pool of knowledge that is otherwise unattainable by working with a managed service provider. Having dozens of IT experts to back up your business can make a big difference in efficiency and technology sophistication. So, ask how many technicians a provider employs. You’ll want a provider that can provide multiple technicians to give your business the benefit of additional resources. However, bigger doesn’t always mean better — you’ll also want to make sure your provider acts as a true strategic partner.
On top of determining how many technicians a provider has, you’ll also want to understand how they interact with your business. If you are using an on-site model, will you have a dedicated consultant or just whatever technician is available? By having the same technician committed to your business, they will have time to get to know your network, operations, and employees and provide better and more tailored solutions.
6. How do you keep your technicians trained and up-to-date on the latest technology?
After you’ve determined how many technicians your provider employs and how they will work with you, you’ll also want to understand how the provider keeps them trained. Technology is constantly evolving, with new solutions, software, and cyber threats being created all the time. Any IT technician working on your network needs to be informed on the latest trends and tools.
So, ask providers how they train their technicians and keep them updated on the latest information. Do they hold continual formal trainings? Determine if education is a priority for them and their technicians.
7. What is unique about your business?
Lastly, another key question to ask your IT provider is how they are different. What sets them apart from other providers? Have them explain their differentiators and unique offerings.
Even more, ask to speak with current clients. See what they have to say about the provider. This can give you the best idea of how the company operates and works with its clients.
Overall, finding the right IT services provider for your business isn’t impossible; it just takes a little effort. Know what questions to ask and what to look for when comparing different companies. By doing this, you will be able to separate high-quality providers from their lower-quality counterparts.
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