2. Document Operational Expectations
When it comes to describing what’s included in an IT service, talk is cheap. The IT provider should offer a clear, written definition of the services to be furnished. A contract or service agreement will include measurable details of what you can expect in terms of the service performance and quality – for instance, exact hours of help desk operation; response times for issue resolution; or service availability parameters for a cloud-based offering. In addition, compensation for excessive downtime or other breach of contract also should be documented.
3. Avoid Quick-Fix IT Solutions
Putting a workaround in place may keep users productive and processes working in the short-term, but that's not the type of IT that will keep your business secure and stable in the long-term. Cyber hackers are also becoming more sophisticated and increasingly targeting SMBs, which means your technology partner should prioritize infrastructure improvements and the same type of security barriers that protect Fortune 500 companies. Be sure the IT provider has the expertise and integrity to provide solid solutions that will correct issues once and for all, and isn’t relying on band-aids, bubble gum, and duck tape to keep your business running.
Looking for a long-term solution? Check out iCorps' Encompass Program:
4. Gauge Interest and Expertise
Your conversations with an IT provider should be focused on YOU. 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.
5. Anticipate Fluctuating IT Needs
6. Well-Vetted Technology Partner Network
Many technology vendors, including Microsoft and Cisco, insist that IT experts be trained and certified to install and maintain their products. Since your IT needs will span everything from communications technologies to server and software technologies, specialized skills are essential. Look for an IT provider whose consultants are vendor-certified across multiple technologies. These certifications and partnerships verify that they are trained on those vendors’ latest technologies and possess the proper skills and utilize best practices to implement and maintain those vendors’ solutions.
7. Insist on Local Referrals
An IT provider that performs work in New York City should be able to offer many local customer references. Request a list, start calling, and ask questions. This due diligence will pay off, giving you valuable, customer-based perspectives on the provider’s performance, quality, experience, and overall services. Pay particular attention to business references from companies that are of similar size and in the same or similar industry as yours, since these will relate most closely to the work you are seeking from the provider.
8. Best-Fit Solutions for Your Business
Did you know some companies simply aren’t suited for the cloud (not yet anyway)? An IT provider must be willing to understand your business and your specific goals in order to implement the best technology solutions for your business – not just deliver the latest technology. A trustworthy IT company will accomplish this with a thorough evaluation or assessment of your IT environment as well as your business goals. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t trust a surgeon to operate without an x-ray or physical first, would you?
9. On-Demand Support
There’s no good time for technology to fail, a system to go down, or software to glitch. Find an IT provider whose services include critical 24/7 access to network operations support. Better yet, see if they also offer proactive services such as remote monitoring that can detect – and enable you to resolve potential issues – before they happen.
10. Create a Redundant Network
Backing up your data is important, but many companies back-up to devices within the same office space. That’s great – until a fire destroys your building, or flooding restricts access to the region. 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 New York customers by staying ahead of market trends and understanding new technologies that could impact their business. For more information, consider reaching out to an iCorps expert and requesting a free IT consultation.