IT Services Firm Buyer's Guide: Don't Get Taken! 5 Easy Tips To Help You Get IT Right The First Time
Looking for an IT Services Firm? Please do your homework before making a selection. IT is difficult enough and selecting an IT provider for your company is an important strategic decision. You want everything to go smoothly and you want all the benefits of good IT support for you and your company. Check out these tips to help you find the right IT provider the first time.
You can download a FREE copy of the 21 Questions To Ask A Prospective IT Service Provider HERE, and use it as a guide during your selection process.
You can download a FREE IT Service Provider Due Diligence Checklist HERE, and use it as a guide during your vetting process.
TIP 1: SELECT THE IT PROVIDER BEFORE YOU SELECT THE IT
Do business only with an IT provider who will give you service as good after the sale as before. Choosing a reputable, established IT Support Provider is the #1, most important decision you can make when looking for someone to take care of your computers and network. Pick a good IT services firm that is trustworthy and can offer a wide range of support options. Remember, your goal is to end up with a computer network that is a joy to work on and not a headache.
Look for companies that are well established, with at least 10 years of industry experience in your local area. These companies will have long track records of successful engagements and will have been exposed to a lot of different computer networks and scenarios.
TIP 2: MUST HAVE REFERENCES
A reputable IT Support firm will put you in contact with clients in your industry or with similar organizational structures. This way, when you call the references, you can ask questions about the service and support that is related to your business. Great IT support companies got that way with a high percentage of referrals from previous clients.
When interviewing IT support firms, you should look for consistent referral business from previous clients upwards of 50%. While you're at it, ask to see "Clients Testimonials", that is, actual letters or comments from real clients about how good the IT support company is.
TIP 3: WARNING: "ADD-ONS" ADD UP
Beware of IT companies that have a lot of "add-ons" or "gotchas" not included in the original price. Many inexperienced IT companies (who don’t even know the pitfalls of their own industry) will hook you with some attractive offerings and then nickel and dime you every step of the way.
Good IT support is very complex to deliver and the process of properly quoting an engagement is also complicated. However, a good IT services company will have the experience to know the ins and outs of your network before the job begins.
Avoid getting support from companies that are willing to provide you a quote over the phone or via email without performing an extensive evaluation of your computers and network. Only inexperienced IT service providers and computer consulting companies will provide pricing this way. These companies have no way of knowing what they are getting themselves into and that should be a huge red flag for you.
Always make sure that the IT support company you are considering throughly assesses your network before they provider you a quote or proposal.
TIP 4: THE WORST WAY TO GET IT SUPPORT IS FROM AN INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT
Most businesses handle IT support using the "Break-Fix" model. It goes something like this...
It's Monday morning at 1030AM and you need a report printed out for an afternoon meeting. Suddenly the file you've been working on all weekend is not available from the network. You frantically click around your screen then restart your computer. Nothing…
You call your "computer guy" but it goes straight to voicemail.
2 hours later, the computer guy calls you back and tries to help you over the phone with no success. He tells you he can drive right over to take a look at the problem as soon as he is finished with another client.
By mid-afternoon, your computer guy shows up. You are very upset, all your co-workers are upset, the client is upset and the stress-level is through the roof.
Your computer guy tells you you've run out of megabytes on your hard drive and because of an incompatible version of Windows drivers your network traffic is getting a lot of sync errors and the read/write cache is full so the file is not available. Huh?!?
Your computer guy tells you he can order a new part and have it ready for you in a couple days.
In the meantime, you've wasted and entire day on this problem, your client is upset because the report you promised them didn't arrive, and now your whole schedule for the week is shot.
To top it off, your computer guy hands you an invoice for emergency services and a part.
With the "break-fix" model of computer support, you wait until something breaks before you fix it. It's the absolute worst and most expensive way to have your computer problems solved. It's like waiting until your house is on fire before buying a hose.
With "Break-Fix" computer support your success is inversely related to the success of your computer consultant. The more your network breaks, the more profit he makes (since he gets paid by the hour).
With "IT Managed Services" your success is directly related to the success of your Managed Services Provider. That is, the more your network doesn't break, the more profit the Managed Services Provider makes. Therefore, it is in everyone's interest that your network runs as smoothly as possible.
TIP 5: LOOK, DON’T BUY ONLINE
Researching your major purchase options on the Internet is a great way to get the education you need to make a wise buying decision. However, do not even consider getting IT support from a large, national company with headquarters outside your local market. Every computer network is different and every business is different. You need a company who can understand the unique needs, workflows and business practices of your particular business. You need a dedicated account team who can understand the nuances of your company, how you use your data and what challenges you face day-to-day. National providers work on volume and have high technician turn-over. They will never be able to understand your business to the level required to provide you the level of service you need.
A good rule of thumb is, for every 10 employees you have, your computer support firm should have at about 2 technical engineers. That is, if your company has 50 employees, your computer support firm should have at least 10 technical engineers.