What should you ask a business IT solutions provider to make sure they’re the right match for your business?
When you’re deciding upon a business IT solutions provider, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors to ensure that this crucial business relationship works for you. Whilst top-notch technical skills are to be expected from your provider, their ability to communicate on a human level without the confusing use of techie jargon is equally important. So what are some of the questions you should ask when choosing an IT company?
1. What do I actually need?
Many IT companies will offer you a dizzying range of products and services but are they actually providing you with tailored solutions to your specific business needs? When approaching a potential business IT solutions provider, first have a think about exactly what it is you require and write down a checklist. Discuss these requirements and find out if the products or services which are offered will allow you to cross off all the items on your checklist. It’s better to work with a business IT solutions provider that can handle all your needs, understands what these are from the outset and can clearly explain how they can help achieve your aims without dressing them up in jargon and tech-talk.
2. What’s included in the service?
You’ll often make a purchase or subscribe to a service, only to later be told that there are a whole load of extra add-ons (which come with an additional cost) that you expected to be included as standard. This can be extremely annoying, particularly when it comes to IT, as it is an integral part of any modern business. If something goes wrong, you want to be sure that it will get sorted by your business IT solutions provider quickly and without you having to answer a load of technical questions.
3. What are your service levels?
You cannot afford to have IT problems affecting your business operations, so ensuring that you receive an appropriate “service level agreement” (or SLA) is a vital aspect of the relationship with your IT provider. The SLA essentially acts as your guarantee that any issues will get fixed within a certain amount of time. Some companies will offer higher tiers of SLA (eg. one-hour call out as opposed to 24-hour response time) in return for increased cost, so make sure you’re balancing affordability with speed of resolution.
4. Is it scalable?
The IT requirements of start-ups or growing businesses will often change as staff numbers increase. If you’re taking on more employees, you’ll want to be sure that your IT systems can handle the strain. Additional software licenses often need to be purchased, so understanding how this will affect your bottom line in advance will prevent any nasty surprises.
5. What are your credentials?
Ask to see a list of existing clients, especially in your own business sector. See if there are any testimonials or contact a couple of these clients yourself to find out about their experience. It’s worth finding out about the qualifications of your IT provider and the team that will be working with you to check that their skillset is up to par. Also check out if there are any strategic partnerships (e.g. if they are a Microsoft Partner) as this demonstrates additional credibility.