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7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an IT Service Provider

Are you looking for an IT service provider for your business?

Every business needs access to cutting edge IT services. All our daily functions are online, but with so many options out there, it can be hard to know where to start.

Don't worry! Read on for seven questions you should ask before choosing an IT service provider.

1. What is the Company’s Culture? 

Meet with other members of staff, not just the sales reps. Ask who will be in charge of your account and talk to them. It's important you find out the company culture. A provider that suits the entertainment industry might not be suitable for a military contractor!

Whatever their culture, you want someone competent, responsive, and able to problem-solve. A provider that's easy to talk to for all staff will likely give better results. If they're unresponsive or get defensive all the time this could be a constant headache.

2. Who Will You Work With and What's Their Experience?

You want to understand an IT provider's competencies, but you also want to know what the team members you'll work will bring to the table too.

You want to work with members familiar with your business and the industry-specific needs you have. They should understand your business, your goals, and the challenges you may face.

Often, you might meet the service providers' top team, only to end up working with a different team when you sign up. To avoid this, ask what team you'll be working with and talk with them from the start.

What's their experience? What are their qualifications? Do they know of your business? Make sure they're trustworthy before signing up.

3. What Are the Terms of the Service-Level Agreement (SLA)?

Your SLA is the contract between the service provider and you. It outlines the expected services and metrics to measure them. It'll also include any penalties should the metrics not be met.

They provide everyone with a clear understanding of the requirements. Should any issues arise on either end, no party can claim ignorance. So, you want to have a solid SLA with reasonable terms.

The service providers often put together the SLA but check it to make sure it's in your best interests. The standard formats are just a starting point and you can negotiate to suit your business needs. If a provider isn't willing to negotiate, this is a red flag.

One thing you definitely need to check is the assured support request response time. Some might set a specific response time window to hide behind (like 4 hours). This isn't in your favor, so you should negotiate if this is the case.

4. How Will They Help with a Data Backup & Recovery Plan?

Data loss can happen at any time, in a lot of ways. It could be a mistake, cyber attack, hardware failure, or even a natural disaster.

By partnering with a reputable IT service provider, you'll be able to back up data. They'll also help you put together a data recovery plan in case disaster strikes.

Ask any potential providers how they action a data backup and recovery plan. Will they do it offsite, or with independent local disks. A good IT provider can provide you with a detailed plan for any situation. This ensures your business is as prepared as it can be to bounce back from any data loss issues.

5. How Often Are Their In-House Updates and Maintenance Performed?

An IT service provider who's not looking after their own equipment might not look after yours either. So asking how often they update and maintain their infrastructure can tell you the level of care to expect.

Find out any updates or maintenance schedules that will impact your business. If they need downtime, are they going to give you a warning, and by what method? How long are their downtime estimates?

While asking, make sure there will always be a way to contact your provider with these issues. Find out who to contact and by what method. You don't want to find your service down and have no one to call!

6. Do They Offer Live Help Desk Support?

Live help desk support can provide instant help with technical issues as soon as they happen. If offered at any time, it saves you or your employees having to struggle alone to figure out the issue.

It's especially useful for those employees needing to work late past regular hours. There's instant help at hand without needing to wait for the next working day.

With so much reliance on IT, 24/7 support is crucial. It keeps employee productivity high and takes a lot of stress out of waiting to get help. Also, you don't have to worry about employee downtime hitting your business' pockets.

7. How Will They Include You as Part of Your IT experience?

It's important not to sit back and hope that someone else is managing your IT infrastructure. If you aren't aware of what's going on, how can you tell your IT services are running smoothly? Auditing your IT service providers helps you keep on track and spot issues before they become big problems. 

Make it clear early on that you want your prospective IT service provider to include you from the get-go. A service provider worth it's salt will want to include you and have set procedures to do this. Some standard practices to ask them about are:

  • Reports: Are they provided with the service, and how often are they given (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)?
  • Meetings: Are they willing to set up regular meetings to keep you up to date?
  • Troubleshooting: Are they willing to involve you to discuss any solutions to problems that occur?

Choosing the Right IT Service Provider Made Easy 

So there you have it! By asking these seven questions, you'll be sure to find the IT service provider that suits your business needs.

At the end of the day, you want a service that works for you. Any good provider will be able to work out a service that will meet any needs you have. You want to look for a provider that's transparent, honest, and working in your interests.

Contact us today if you're looking for a new IT service provider. At MicroTech Systems we deliver quality, ongoing computer support to keep your business operating with consistency and efficiency.

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