10 Tips for Choosing an IT Support Provider in Philadelphia

It can be difficult to navigate the murky waters of IT companies to locate a consistent, reliable provider that won’t sink your business. Without a map to identify the key characteristics that you should be looking for in an IT support company, you likely have no idea what direction to head in.

In a larger metropolitan area like Philadelphia, you won’t find a shortage of IT providers, but you will find some major differences, ranging from service offerings and capabilities; to expertise and experience; to responsiveness, quality, and price.

Here are 10 tips that can help you narrow the scope – and choose an IT provider that meets your needs:

1. Local to Philadelphia. Many IT providers may claim to serve the Philadelphia area, but this vague reference can cover a significant geographic footprint. If a provider’s consultants work out of a Pennsylvania suburb a few hours (or even a few states) away, their ability to serve your needs will be limited by travel time and distance – all of which are dependent on weather and traffic conditions. Quick response times in an emergency by a truly local IT provider can help your business minimize losses in productivity – and even revenue. Look for a provider whose consultants work within the city limits so that travel means across town, not across state lines. 

2. Insist on Local Referrals. A local customer opinion goes a long way when shopping around in the IT industry. A Philadelphia-based IT provider should be able to offer local customer references. Do your due dilligence - start calling and ask questions. It's worth the extra effort, giving you valuable, customer-based perspectives on the provider’s performance, quality, experience and overall services.  (Read what Vulcan Spring & Manufacturing in Telford, PA has to say about their IT support).

3. Deep Bench of IT Experts. Many IT providers out there claim to be “the biggest” and “the best” – but how do you know it’s not all smoke and mirrors? Look for a company that hires selectively to ensure quality service and consistent communication throughout their entire organization. Consultants should be certified across multiple vendors and the latest technologies (i.e. cloud, cybersecurity) for you to feel your environment is in the best hands. In addition, make sure that that your IT partner ensures that more than one consultant is familar with your environment and network to cover for sickness, vacation, unforseen circumstances. At iCorps Technologies, we adhere to a “shadow rotation model” which provides our clients with a deep bench of consultants who understand their specific IT environment and needs, ensuring business continuity in spite of staff changes.

4. Don’t Settle for A Quick Fix. The "break-fix" method may work in the short-term, but any business should avoid an IT provider that drives with that philosophy. Look for an IT provider that wants to work with your business to develop a long-term IT plan that ensures the ongoing success of your company. A good IT provider understands the importants of prioritizing infrastructure improvements and the same type of security barriers that protect Fortune 500 companies - every business in a target in this day and age as cyber hackers are becoming more sophisticated and increasingly targeting SMBs. Be sure the IT provider has the expertise and integrity to provide solid solutions that will effectively correct issues once and for all, and isn’t relying on “band-aid solutions” to keep your business running. 

5. Commitment to Your Success. Conversations with an IT provider should always be focused on YOU. A good IT provider knows that the client and their business needs always come first. Their understanding of your business objectives, how your workers work, the processes and supporting technologies you have in place is essential, and will help them align your business processes and goals with the appropriate IT services and capabilities. If they’re more interested in selling you a one-size-fits-all solution or pushing you to the latest technology without first determining its fit for your business, move on to the next provider – quickly.

6. Anticipate the Ups and Downs. Of course, most businesses start out with the intention of growing. But along the way, any number of things could occur that may positively or negatively impact growth. As your employee and customer base expands and contracts, so do your technology needs. Businesses have natural ups and downs in terms of user and customer activity – with reciprocal fluctuations in technology resources. An IT provider should be able to scale their IT services and support your business’ shifting needs.

7. Strong Cyber Security Practice. Ransomware is on the rise, causing significant downtime and revenue loss for a growing number of businesses – ransomware damages are on track to reach $1 billion in 2016 alone. Make sure that your IT provider has a solution in place to combat potential cyber attacks and safeguard your business data. In the event that your business is attacked, a good IT provider should be able to spin up your data from a reliable backup solution, resulting in minimal downtime for your business and allowing operations to continue to run smoothly.

9. New Doesn't Always Mean Better. The cloud can be intimidating to those who haven't seen its potential, and many companies don't know where to begin. A good IT provider understands the importance of learning about a client's business and long-term strategic plan in order to implement the best technology solutions for your business – not just deliver the latest technology flavor of the year. A trustworthy IT company will accomplish this with a thorough evaluation or assessment of your IT environment as well as your business goals. All solutions are vetted carefully to develop a customized strategic plan to fit your business’ needs. 

9. Get it in Writing. There are a lot of smooth talkers out there when it comes to describing what's included in their IT services. Talk is cheap - the IT provider should offer a clear, written definition of the services to be provided. A contract or service agreement will include measurable details of what you can expect in terms of the service performance and quality – for instance, expected response times for issue resolution; exact hours of help desk operation; or service availability parameters for a cloud-based offering

10. Redundancy is Key. Many companies understand the importance of backing up their data....but when it's done in the same office space, it defeats the purpose of data backup in the first place. What happens if the office building floods from a hurricane, or catches on fire? Many IT providers offer geo-redundancy options that allow you to back up your critical data to a second device that’s located somewhere other than your office – and often, in a completely different region of the country. These options provide additional protection and remote access to your valuable data when you need it.

With more than two decades of experience, the iCorps IT consulting team is dedicated to delivering excellence to our Philadelphia customers by staying ahead of market trends and understanding new technologies that could impact their business.

Choosing Your IT Company