Trying to find the right IT support partner to help your business can be daunting. There’s a lot to consider, and those considerations should go beyond the costs involved. While competitive pricing ought to be factored in, we’ve put together some other questions you should ask an IT support company before hiring them.
Get to know the company
What’s the size of the company?
It’s good to get a grasp on how big the company is. While large corporations may come with an executive reputation, they can also feel ‘faceless’, as you may find yourself dealing with a different person each time you call. Individual contractors are good for continuity, but are at the mercy of other client demands, and illness. They are also unlikely to have expert knowledge in every area of IT. Finding a company with the right mix of staff, experience, expertise and availability is key.
Do they have insurance?
It’s smart business practice to carry professional indemnity insurance. Although it’s unlikely anything will go wrong, making sure your provider is insured is a prudent choice. Policies starting at around £1 000 000 are not uncommon.
What levels of support do they offer?
Different companies have different IT needs. Does the IT support company provide varying levels of support? They could provide:
- Managed support services, where the IT company actively monitors your systems and provides real time support and troubleshooting (typically on a monthly contract);
- Break-fix support, where issues are managed as they arise (usually for an hourly fee or set price);
- Pay-as-you-go support, where an hourly fee or set price is charged whenever you need support for any IT needs.
Do they guarantee a dedicated account manager or dedicated engineer?
Depending on the size of the company and the level of services offered, you may have a dedicated account manager available to you. This would ensure a continuous level of service, and is desirable, but not essential. If you select a small to mid size company, you’ll likely deal with a limited number of people. Dedicated engineers are a little more rare. Usually engineers are deployed based on the problem at hand and their experience – the best person for the job.
When problems occur
How can we log support calls?
When you’re thinking of questions to ask an IT support company before hiring them, make sure to find out how you contact them when you need their help. Sometimes there is a combination of email or phone support available. How can you follow up with them if something changes? Do they have a ticketing system to keep your request in a queue?
What are their response times?
It’s good to clarify exactly what is meant by ‘response time’. Usually it means that an acknowledgement of your request will be made promptly. Good companies will offer a projected resolution target, but not a guarantee. That’s simply because sometimes problems unfold in unexpected ways.
What exactly do they include in their packages?
Typically a package will cover any problems involving the hardware and standard software, and often travel to and from the premises. Sometimes, third-party custom software may be excluded from cover, and peripheral items like printers and smart devices are considered extras.
What isn’t covered?
It’s the flip side of the question above but you’re likely to find out different information. This is useful to follow up with if you’ve had previous experience with IT issues in the office. If something breaks down, will the replacement parts be included or charged for? Will the installation be covered or not?
Do they offer remote management and monitoring?
IT services used to be called up on a break-fix basis – if something broke, someone was called to fix it. This on-site, reactive style of IT help is still how many services operate. In conjunction with this style of support, remote access and monitoring can be conducted offsite, and can even be proactive. That is, if a problem can be identified before it becomes a crisis, additional downtime and costs can be avoided. Remote monitoring can be extremely valuable in these circumstances. Establish which types of services the IT company offers and weigh up which is right for your business.
Do they network with larger/complementary companies?
Confident IT companies are not afraid to refer you to complementary specialists. In fact, they are likely to have a short list of operators (in web design or telecoms, for example) that can assist you. This can show that a company understands its strengths and is willing to send you to the right place to have your needs met. You can also investigate if the IT company has connections to larger service providers, and if they are willing to do the legwork of connecting to the phone company if your broadband isn’t working, for example.
Do they have client testimonials or case studies?
It’s very reassuring to read testimonials and case study examples from previous clients. Ensure the testimonials are authentic if you can.
Do they have clients willing to talk about their experience with you (provide a reference)?
In addition to written or video testimonials, it doesn’t hurt to ask for references. The IT support company may be able to pass on contact details for businesses that have used their services in the past. This reference can be reassuring and you can learn more about what it’s really like to receive their services. Be aware that this is really a step above what’s required, but it never hurts to ask.
Finding the right IT company for you can take some time. It’s worth investigating a few companies thoroughly before making a commitment. Once you do, you’ll feel confident moving ahead.
About EC-MSP, Your IT Support Partner
EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support on your business IT support needs, contact us today to see how we can help.