When looking for an IT company to manage your firm’s technology, reading reviews is an excellent first step. We often choose our lawyers, healthcare providers, and even phone carriers based on word of mouth or reviews. Choosing an IT provider is no different.
Start with reviews. Just don’t stop with reviews.
A company may have dozens of 5-star reviews yet be unable to service your firm. Some IT companies are specialized while others may lack critical experience in your industry. We’ve compiled a list of IT-specific questions for you. These aren’t questions you will get answers to out of a Google review. Some of them may not apply to your situation, but most will. You should be familiar with these before making a decision on a provider.
Experience in our industry
Some newer IT startups will try to use their “new company vibe” to entice clients. But think about the complexities of your industry.
- What is your experience?
- How many years have you been in business?
- Do you have clients in our industry? How many?
- How long have you worked with them?
- What were some of the solutions you offered?
Virtual is great, except when it isn’t
Many companies will promise that the work can be done virtually, from anywhere. In many cases, this is true. But what about server and networking issues? Installations? Cabling? Dead Wifi spots in the building? Water leaks in the server room? These are issues that require an on-site technician. Hiring a team that can travel to you is more important than a virtual one, especially when on-site help is needed.
Every company is unique and has different challenges and needs. Some providers charge flat rates, some by the hour, some a hybrid model. In any case, make sure you aren’t paying for bundled services you don’t need.
- Does your current IT provider answer the phone right away?
- If they use a ticketing system (like ZenDesk or Help Scout), do they respond quickly?
- Do you have the option of expedited service?
- What about weekends or after hours?
- Can I reach you 24/7? Every day of the year?
The big one. Security is more of a concern every year to businesses. Most company leaders are aware of the problem but don’t see it as happening to them. Here are three key facts you need to know.
- 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small-to-medium businesses (SMBs), yet only 14% have proper security in place — Ponemon Institute
- The cost to the average US business from a cyber attack is $200,000 — Hiscox
- Cybertheft is the fastest-growing crime in the US — CNBC
Ensure the company you interview makes security a priority — not an add-on service. It should be core to their philosophy. From the hardware to your firm’s password policy (you do have one, right?), a good IT company will be able to cover all aspects of IT security.
No one likes to think that a natural disaster could strike, but they do. Weather incidents of a severe nature are increasing every year, in every part of the globe. The damage from the February 2021 winter storm in Texas is expected to cost $130 billion. No one saw that coming. Having an IT firm that plans for disaster recovery is crucial. How about vandalism? Power outages? Disgruntled employees with access to passwords?
Daily backups are a must-have. Cloud-based services make it so easy to do. Your team will be able to request on-demand backups whenever they need them.
Vendor relationships and certifications
- What vendors does the provider work with?
- Are they companies you work with? This is especially important for Mac-only companies.
- Are they certified or better yet, partners with that vendor?
- When was their certification last renewed?
COVID safety measures
Ask if their technicians will check with your company regarding your COVID policy.
- What measures do they take?
- Do they offer any software to help with contact tracing?
Proactive, not just reactive
It’s great to hire a company that can fix any problem. It’s better to hire a company that can prevent them from happening in the first place. Proactive measures and planning not only reduce downtime but save you money. Ask what type of proactive measures they take. Ask if they have planning meetings to discuss budget, hardware, and software.
Accountability is the final piece of the puzzle.
- How do you hold your firm accountable?
- Any guarantees on your work?
- Is it in your contracts?
- How will issues be resolved?
- Are you looking for a long-term partnership or project work? PRO TIP: A partnership is better, less expensive, and has less downtime.
We hope you find this primer helpful in your search. And as a parting note, we do all of these.