Ensuring you’re getting the right IT partner for your business

Almost every business that launches today relies on some form of IT or digital software. Find out how you can make sure you choose the right IT partner for your business.

Whether it’s a one laptop setup in your home office or you need to set up a network of interconnect terminals, you need to ensure that your technology is meeting the needs of your business.

If your small business is growing to include half a dozen or more devices, then you need to think about getting some professional help to ensure you’re meeting your IT needs. But how do you decide which IT partners are right for your business? Here, we’ll look at a few of the criteria that are worth a closer look.

They respond to you promptly

Of course, you want to make sure that when you are really in need, you’re going to be able to get a response quickly. When you’re in crisis mode, due to data loss, a security breach, or being unable to access vital files and functions, you don’t want to be left waiting around for your IT team.

To that end, you should pay close attention to how quickly they respond to your initial queries about their services. It’s not a one-to-one indicator, as they are likely to treat security tickets with more urgency, but it can give you a good idea of just how prompt they are in responding in their day-to-day.

Of course, you should ask them how long it takes them to respond in emergencies, as well. The first 72 hours after a data breach are said to be the most crucial, after all.

They take into account the risks that meet your business

While larger businesses tend to need to invest more into the security angle of their IT, there is no business that can go without it. To that end, you need to think about the types of business risk that your IT providers could potentially help you protect against and whether or not they have the services to do that.

This can include things such as protections against system failures, cyber-attacks, and data breaches. However, IT companies can also help you ensure protection against data security risks by offering the appropriate methods to safeguard and store data while being compliant with the data protection laws that apply.

They provide the services that you need

Before you decide which company is right for you, you need to think about what, exactly, it is that you’re going to need from them.

Are you looking to build a network for your business? Is security your main priority? Are you looking to adopt certain technologies such as Cloud computing or VoIP communications? Or are you just looking for IT support to keep your systems running as smoothly as possible?

Think about the specifics of the services that you’re trying to get help with and make sure that you’re choosing a team that specializes in those services. Not every IT company offers the same things with the same level of expertise.

They’re suited to your industry

A lot of businesses are going to be able to operate just fine with a more “generic” type of IT provider that doesn’t need to cater too much to the specific needs of their business. However, you should always think about whether your industry or the demands of your business bring with them any specific needs that you could better adjust to by working with partners that have expertise in that particular field.

IT for higher education is one example, where the IT needs to be set up for students to be able to use safely, not just staff members. Finding the IT services that have the industry experience you need can help you ensure the fulfillment of needs that other IT providers might not even be aware of.

The price is right (as is how you’re billed)

While it might not take priority over making sure that you’re getting the services that you need, you have to make sure that you’re able to both understand the billing structure fully and that it fits within your business budget.

There are different types of service cost structures and different businesses will rely on different setups, which can make it hard to determine which is actually the more cost-effective option. Take the time to work out the real monthly cost of your IT provider, whether they’re offering pay-as-you-go services or fixed-price contracts. In many cases, fixed-price can be a little more reliable to account for.

Do they have a good reputation?

Take a look around at what past clients are saying about the services that you’re looking into. There are plenty of review sites where you can find the information that you need. If they have much of a working history, then it’s very likely you will be able to find reviews and in-depth feedback on the services provided.

However, you should be aware of the fact that many businesses will, indeed, pay or work to ensure that there are positive reviews and responses left where they can. As such, reviews should not be the only source that you should rely on. If you know of any past clients, get in touch with them directly to see if their sentiments echo the reviews.

Is the company trustworthy?

Of course, with something as important as your business’s IT scope and cybersecurity, you have to make sure that you can rely on the team that you choose. Aside from all of the tips above, you should always take a look at the business from a more skeptical angle.

You can look into the official history and records of the business and its owners to see if there have been any major scandals or issues with not just the business that you’re looking into, but any businesses that have been previously operated by the same people.

With these tips, you can make sure that you have a purpose in mind behind your choice of IT partner, and can ensure that your needs are being met.

Photo by Tim van der Kuip