10 critical questions to ask IT Support providers
A perfect read for Managing Directors and Business Owners in the Legal, Accounting or Recruitment sector across the Sheffield area.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of resistance from your IT provider? Or maybe you have been on the end of appalling customer service, slow response times and failure to meet deadlines – only to then have to deal with disgruntled staff and customers?
Sounds like you? Then read on.
On the other hand, maybe you are satisfied with your current IT support but are unaware of what the industry standard should be.
Choosing an IT partner is one of the most crucial business decisions that you will ever make. IT is the lifeline of any business and without it, even for a short period of time, any business would struggle to carry out important jobs within their organisation.
Therefore, it is vital to ask yourself, your existing IT partner and any potential partners these 10 critical questions:
1. How are they going to help manage your costs?
You should only be paying for what you need and what you will use.
An IT solution specifically tailored to the Legal, Accounting or Recruitment sector, the size of your business and your individual business needs will prevent unnecessary expenses, for example, equipment, support or set up that you do not require. However, the best IT partner for you will identify where additional equipment, better equipment or other services will save you money and ensure that your IT system is running smoothly at all times.
2. Will they help you to manage your cash flow?
Your IT partner should be able to help and advise you with different payment options for your IT solution. Unlike traditional lenders, many IT companies work with specialist finance companies that can fund more than just your equipment. Financial help can also include the costs of IT support and installation combined into a single package with monthly payments.
IT is a huge expense for any business, therefore, how you pay is a vital part of the overall solution.
3. What are their response times?
Ask yourself, how much downtime can your business afford? When you consider the impact on staff productivity and your company’s bottom line, you need to feel comfortable with the amount of time it would take someone to respond to you – i.e. pick up the phone and fix the issue.
When an issue arises, you should consider the size of your partner’s team. How is their team structured? Do they have both in-house and field-based engineers? Will you get the help you need with just one phone call? Do they know the Sheffield area well enough to get to you quickly?
4. Do they have a proven history of delivering fast fix times?
Just like response times, fix times must be considered when reviewing your potential IT partner.
Of course, no-one can guarantee to fix an issue until it happens. Any IT support provider trying to gain your trust regarding their reliability and consistency to deliver premium fix-times will be able to provide the evidence to back this up. As well as their team size and structure, ask about their accreditations and escalation procedures. You need to understand the ability of the team and the methodology they use to resolve IT issues.
5. How will they be proactive in supporting you?
Ultimately, a partner should be able to resolve an issue before it becomes a problem, through the constant monitoring of your network. 24/7 remote monitoring is a proactive service that maintains and performs health checks on your systems to minimise the risk of network-critical issues ever occurring.
Proactive support can also be delivered through patch management, which is an ongoing strategy that updates and fixes vulnerabilities in a network by installing ‘patches’ as part of an agreed plan.
6. Are they big enough?
You will know just what impact holidays and sickness have on your business – but have you considered the effect this has on your IT partner?
It is stressful enough when there are unforeseen or lengthy absences amongst your own staff, but what happens when your IT provider experiences a staff shortage? Your partner is responsible for the smooth running of your network and any issues with their staff count is not your problem, but it could become yours if your partner is not a substantial size to properly support you. You need to ensure that they are big enough to deal with any situation that could impact their staff numbers. Do they have a contingency plan in place if something were to happen?
7. Are they an expert in cyber security?
Cybercrime is the number one form of organised crime, with the perpetrators highly unlikely to ever be caught or punished. The damage that can be caused to a business after a cyber-attack can be beyond repair for some companies, with their reputation and finances never recovering.
If your IT provider does not see network security as an essential feature to your infrastructure solution, then do not even consider them.
Regardless of the size of your business, every organisation must ensure measures are taken to secure and protect data. Unfortunately, not enough SMEs (small and medium enterprises) appreciate this, which consequently makes smaller corporations a target for cybercrime due to their expected network vulnerability.
8. Are they prepared for your future?
What about the future? Your IT partner should have the ability to grow with your business, whether you are expanding to multiple sites, users or there is a change within your industry. Not only that, they should be asking you about these potential changes so that any IT solutions in place, or about to be put in place, are ready for future developments.
A forward-thinking IT partner will encourage you to embrace these technological changes while ensuring that your solution is future-proof and adaptable within the industry.
9. How do they cope with the unexpected?
We all know that IT can go wrong. This is why you have a dedicated IT support partner. But what happens when things really go wrong?
If your server stops working, your backup device fails or you lose your internet connection you will, of course, rely on the response and fix times of your provider. It is important to understand precisely how prepared they are for these sorts of problems. Do they carry stock of critical components that can be swapped out easily? How quickly could they get to your office to replace some faulty equipment? And what relationships do they have with key suppliers to get replacement equipment delivered quickly?
10. Will this be a partnership?
The chances are that there will be times when you need to contact your IT partner when you’re not in the best-frame-of-mind. Whether your entire network has just gone down or you can’t get into your emails. When you have a business to run either is detriment. Your provider should be there to help during downtime, reassure you and answer any questions that you have whilst they fix the issue.
It is essential to work with a provider who understands and respects your values and your priorities. As well as working with you to tailor your infrastructure, they should work with you on any project or fix – providing you with the knowledge and confidence about your system.
IT expenditure has grown significantly over the last 10 years. For most businesses, technology is even more important than ever. With that in mind, you need to be 100% sure you are working with experienced, skilled people, that are friendly and a team that you actually want to work with!
It’s what we do
We created these 10 Critical Questions because it defines the level of service that we offer to all of our customers – all of the time – and we think that all businesses deserve this as a minimum.
For over 25-years, we have been working with and for our customers to build the best-quality IT support services available. Always putting our customers first, we are very proud to have some of the strongest customer retention and satisfaction rates that we are aware of in our industry. 98% customer retention and 99% “good” or better in our customer satisfaction feedback.
Our IT support services range greatly depending on what our customers need. From remote, phone and help desk support for desktops, laptops, tablets and servers to complete IT outsourcing, proactive IT support, project management and disaster recovery, all of our services are covered by our simple Service Level Agreement. 1-hour response, 8-hour fix. It is that simple. When you need us – we are there. When you call on us, we are ready.
We are currently offering Free IT Survey’s to companies within the Legal, Accounting and Recruitment sectors, across the Sheffield area. Interested? Take full advantage of this now by completing the form above.