Questions You Should Ask Before Appointing An IT Service Provider
When it comes to appointing an external IT service provider, making a decision to let someone else manage your IT can feel daunting. Most businesses today rely heavily on their IT infrastructure for everything, from daily operations to business growth and strategy. It is, therefore, essential to establish a reliable connection with the IT provider and ensure that they understand the nature of your business and are able to safeguard your business when it comes to downtimes or disaster recovery. Appointing an IT provider is very much like an interview process to get to know a member of staff or even the process of matchmaking. In this post we will look at questions you should ask before appointing an IT service provider.
BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE
Given the rate of business failures, you will want to ask a question surrounding the IT provider’s experience and establish how long they have been operational. It is worthwhile to choose a provider with more than 5 years of experience in the IT field.
It is also worth finding out how many staff members work for the provider so that you can have an idea of how many different teams or individuals you will be working with. While many IT service providers are smaller businesses with fewer staff members, you will want to ensure the right capacity to respond to your business requirements. Equally, if you feel that you will be dealing with larger IT teams, you want to ensure that you will have the relevant support when you need it. It is often safer to find a smaller IT service provider with an established structure that provides you with reliable direct access and first-class talent.
Once you know the size of the teams, it is practical to find out whether you are going to have a specific individual managing your IT. The idea is to have a point of contact who is also the person who is managing your account, has knowledge of all the information about your business.
Honest reviews and feedback from existing customers is also an excellent way to find out more about an IT service provider.
Pricing is one of the most critical questions. You will want to know how and when you will be charged. Furthermore, it is handy to know whether the provider offers the option to be billed as and when the work is required or whether a set fee is involved. It is essential to be crystal clear on the pricing structure so that there are no surprises as a result of hidden costs further down the line.
When it comes to the agreement itself – be sure to read the small print to confirm that you are getting exactly what your business needs. If you think that your business may require the IT service provider to make an on-site visit, it is vital to establish whether this is included in your agreement or whether additional fees are likely to be incurred.
Even though the IT industry is very competitive, there is no need for you to be locked into a long-term agreement, especially if it is not something you are looking for. The flexibility of a shorter-term agreement or a trial period might be more beneficial for your business, which might lead to establishing a relationship that brings appealing benefits and continuity price reductions.
There should also be a service level agreement incorporated as part of your agreement, setting out the expected service standards that would be provided by the IT service provider. This usually covers factors such as response times and resolving issues that may arise.
The service availability is a crucial question, which will largely depend on the nature of your business. You will, therefore, want to establish the scope of availability of the provider, and in particular, whether you will be charged extra for getting help outside the agreed service times.
SECURITY AND RECOVERY
The IT service provider will be able to provide you with extensive information regarding the backups that are in place to ensure business continuity. Equally, the provider should be able to reassure you in terms of keeping your IT infrastructure secure. Often, it is not merely the digital that is to be considered, but also the protection the provider has in place against unwanted physical access to its systems.
GROWTH AND SCALABILITY
Your IT provider should be able to provide you with a flexible and adaptable service that fits your business growth plans. Therefore, a key question to ask is whether the agreement you sign up for allows for change as your business expands. Look for flexibility in your contract, either concerning an exit if you think you might outgrow the provider’s services or a way to change the services on offer to suit the business requirements.
A respectable IT service provider will recognize that to remain a valued partner, and it must be committed to growth. Therefore, you should ask how the IT provider will approach the scaling up services. Choose an IT service provider ahead of its game and excited about new developments and the latest innovations.
If you would like to know more about what you should expect from your IT service provider, call us anytime on (970) 663-1200, and we will be happy to discuss the IT services that you may require and ensure that you choose the right partner to support your business now and in the future.
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