1. Can you provide us with some reference companies to speak to?
There is no greater measure of a companyâ€™s ability to deliver than through referrals so make sure you always ask for several references. You donâ€™t have to call them all but if they can provide a few to select from it will instantly give you confidence.
And for those you do speak to, here are a few potential questions you could ask:
Do they deliver what they promised?
Are they responsive and easy to get hold of?
Do they communicate well â€“ letting you know whatâ€™s happening with issues?
Do they stay within the projected budget?
Would you use them again?
2. Do you have a target market?
The majority of Managed IT Service Providers do not have a specific focus. That means they have a spread of micro, small, medium, and enterprise clients. Most Small Businesses owners have a limited understanding of IT, so it's vitally important that they select a provider that has a deep and intimate understanding of a small business's requirements. For example, do they possess the handholding skills to fill the gaps, and can they communicate in non-geek speak?
3. How big is your company?
Managed IT service companies vary enormously but as they grow, their ability to offer more solutions or products increases, as does their knowledge base. Conversely, the â€œone-man bandâ€ may struggle to provide a great service as there will always be times when they must deal with another customer or theyâ€™re ill or on holiday.
However, this doesnâ€™t mean you should automatically choose the biggest company as extremely large IT service companies can sometimes be faceless and cannot understand you and your requirements.
You just need to be confident that the company can meet all your needs with the number of staff they have. They will need to demonstrate that they are small enough to care but are large enough to cope.
3. How are my support costs calculated?
Most conventional support cost models are pinned to the number of users or endpoints, which means that businesses could be paying over the odds. Support premiums should be based on your actual usage. For example, why should a 50-seat company pay more for their support if they log the same number of calls as a company with half as many users? Thatâ€™s unfair and unethical.
4. How long will a contract tie me into you?
Most IT support companies provide contracts with a minimum time commitment or long cancellation periods. If they donâ€™t provide a good service, you want the ability to stop using them so look for companies that offer a transparent and clear termination period.
5. What are your SLAs?
You should expect your support company to offer some sort of reasonable response time in the case of a problem with your IT network. However, remember that a â€œguaranteed response timeâ€ is exactly that â€“ it only guarantees that they wonâ€™t ignore you and will start doing something with your problem. Also, be wary of companies that guarantee to resolve problems within a certain period as this is invariably a hollow guarantee because sometimes it can take much longer than expected to get to the root of problems.
6. Will we get a dedicated account manager?
Itâ€™s good to have a high-level single point of contact within the IT support company with who you can build a long-term relationship with. They will get to know your business and your plans and so can work with you to ensure your IT accommodates these. It is reasonable to expect one or two permanent contacts to whom you can deal and escalate matters.
7. How can we log support issues with you?
When you have an IT problem, itâ€™s infuriating when you canâ€™t get hold of the person you employ to fix it. Make sure your support company either has a dedicated number with someone always available to answer or another facility such as an online form or email address that goes straight to the support team. Ideally, you should have all three of these options.
10. Can I see the IT systems you use?
When using an IT support company, it makes sense to see how they use technology to be efficient and provide a great service. They should have systems to manage CRM, documentation, communication, and subscriptions, as well as leading-edge remote management & monitoring. Don't be afraid to ask for a demo.
11. What isnâ€™t covered in the support contract?
The list could be long, but you need to know examples of things that you may be charged for. Asking what the support contract includes may not necessarily bring out this detail. Here are some specific questions to ask:
If an engineer needs to attend site will I get charged?
Will I get charged for change requests and minor project work?
Is all of my IT equipment covered?
Who is responsible for triaging issues with third-party application software
12. Do you provide remote management and monitoring?
Many IT support companies still operate an on-site break-fix service and offer little in terms of remote management and monitoring, whilst others offer 24/7 monitoring and proactively act (often remotely) to prevent problems before they cause serious issues to your business. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and this is no truer than with IT systems.
For example, they may be able to spot that a disk drive is about to fail and then back up the data before itâ€™s too late. Remote management can also reduce the time it takes to fix things and cut any related travel costs.
13. How do they keep on top of housekeeping and system administration
All IT systems require regular maintenance and housekeeping to foster a culture of proactivity. It's important to note that most small businesses do not have IT staff on the ground, therefore an IT service company should be able to demonstrate how they bridge that gap. For continuity, we recommend that a dedicated on-site technician delivers such maintenance and reporting.
14. Do they offer regular review meetings and auditing?
Most small businesses do not have a CTO (Chief Technology Officer), therefore there's a lack of IT strategy, leadership, governance, and planning. Many IT support providers are not capable of filling that void, and as a result, small businesses fail to keep pace with the modern workplace. Regular meetings and communication is essential to delivering proactive service. It's surprising that most service providers are not capable of offering basic consultancy services.
If youâ€™re on the hunt for a reliable IT support company, hopefully, these questions to help you make the right decision. If you want to speak to a member of our expert team to see what we can offer you please contact us today!
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