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Useful hints to help you save time and effort when choosing an IT provider. Engage only IT companies that will be a good fit for your business.
By Colin Morrison, Service Delivery Manager
We usually write a lot about how to evaluate your IT and make sure everything is working with your current IT environment. So, I thought it would be useful to take a step back and discuss some tips to help businesses pick IT providers for further engagement whilst still in the shopping phase.
Understand your WHY and WHAT?
The first place to start is to evaluate your business needs and why you are looking to change your IT support. There could be many reasons for this, perhaps you have to completely outsource your IT management for the first time or your company has expanded and you have outgrown your current provider. Whatever the reason, it is always best to decide what you need and what is most important.
Define your criteria
You will need to ask yourself some questions:
- What are your current issues?
- What part of your current IT support structure works best?
- Do you have any specific requirements? Perhaps something industry specific
- Are you looking to outsource your entire IT to a managed services provider?
- Is Cloud important to you
- Are you looking for a tightly integrated provider to help you with your IT strategy?
Once you have sketched out what is important to you, you will need to find MSP’s that match your criteria. Word of mouth and experience with other providers is always invaluable, maybe your team has had great experiences before that they can recommend to you?
Limit your search on the web
I would try to create a shortlist of four or five to review, this will probably not be easy! There are heaps of managed service companies out there, a quick Google search and you’ll see what I mean! Some good tips to reduce the field down is looking at the website and see how up to date the information is, check news and blog content. If the provider is actively updating information and getting their message across then that’s a really good sign as it shows they care about being proactive and providing helpful information. However, make sure the information is valuable to you, does it match what’s important to you? Does the information speak your language and not heavy in jargon or complexity?
How is their track record? Check for case studies. If a managed services provider publishes these and includes client names it is a good guide that they have proven themselves as reliable service providers.
Go beyond the techy talk…
Next, review the companies’ service offerings on their website against your criteria. If cloud computing, onsite helpdesk, or a dedicated team is the most important qualities for you, their website should really push this information to the fore. Go beyond the tech and really look at how they get the information out there. Those that understand their clients will have a clear and concise message that you will most likely identify with.
After all the above, meet the selected managed IT providers and ask yourself some questions
Once you get to meet your shortlist, it can get subjective. Materials like brochures and presentation material are important, but less important than the substantive parts of the meeting. For me, there are three main items that you must have at the end of the meeting to give you confidence in the provider.
- Do you believe in their ability?
- Do you trust them with your business?
- Do you think you can have an ongoing relationship with the provider and their staff?
It’s also important that you meet not only the sales rep, but also the managed IT provider key staff and support teams. After this process, a provider should stand out from the pack. A great managed IT service company will be able to offer you the technology and support requirements you need while managing to retain a personal approach to their support. This balance can be hard to find, but I believe that’s what is key to finding an IT support partner that you can have a long relationship with.
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