Do a simple online search for “IT Service Provider” and you will quickly realize how many companies are prepared to offer technical assistance to your small business. How do you separate the good from the bad? Keep these three considerations in mind when you evaluate any company you are thinking of working with.
The choice between a provider in your regional area and a remote, virtual service provider is an important one. In most cases, they will be able to offer you the same range of services, with one key difference. Virtual service providers try to handle all service and support issues remotely; when a more hands on approach is needed they may have someone from your staff trying things for them over the phone before they call a local partner to get someone to your site. A local provider will have the resources to send someone to your location when needed so you don’t have to jump through hoops to get an IT issue resolved.
You will have to weigh the costs and benefits. There may be fewer local IT service providers, but they can offer you a more immediate level of support. A virtual service provider may be less expensive, but drawn out IT problems cost your business money too. Also, you will want to be sure their support is in line with your needs and expectations. Is their support staff employees of their company or outsourced, are they in the US or overseas? When evaluating any company, be sure you know where they are located and what level of support they are prepared to provide. Think of a “what if’ scenario you could ask them.
A good IT service provider will be happy to evaluate your needs and put a comprehensive program together for your small business. Rather than signing a long-term contract for a buffet of services you may not need, you can get a customized plan for a term that works for your business. When evaluating an IT service provider, get specific information about how you will be billed and the terms of the contract should you not be satisfied with their performance or should your IT needs change.
One good place to start is with a consultation. The best IT companies are happy to provide you with a low- or no-cost consultation that thoroughly evaluates your current systems and future needs. Once you know where you stand, you can review the recommendations with the provider, from security to support, and avoid paying for hidden fees or services you don’t need. There is stiff competition amongst IT companies, which means that there is no excuse for not using a client-focused business model.
Scalability and Adaptability
As your business grows, your IT needs grow with it. You may only require a modest IT infrastructure to run your business now, but what will happen when you suddenly get a big new contact, open a new location, or expand your staff? The technology you have in place may be inadequate to handle the new needs of your business. Without the right technical capabilities in place, you introduce unnecessary headaches into your day-to-day operations and diminish the opportunities of your growth.
A good IT service provider can introduce you to technologies that are both scalable and adaptable. As the needs of your small business change, your IT expands and adapts seamlessly. Many cloud services make it easy to add or subtract needs affordably and instantaneously. When you need to select a new business application, your IT service provider can help you select the right one for your business. Your IT partner should be prepared to meet any and all of your needs, now and moving forward.
You are getting closer to finding the right IT service provider for your small business. Read our most recent white paper, “The Ultimate Small Business Guide to IT Outsourcing,” to help you complete your evaluation.