Is your business thinking of sourcing your IT or even gone one step further and decided to outsource some, or all, of its IT function? You’ve noticed that you’re spoilt for choice with so many IT support companies out there.  As a result, it can be quite a complicated process to pick the right company for your business.

Certainly, giving up control of your businesses critical function in the area of IT, can give many business- leaders anxiety. Afterall you’re putting your IT in the hands of a third party. And that can be quite daunting. Will this new provider be reliable? And will you get value for money service? What will happen if something goes wrong?

So, doing some homework is definitely worthwhile. Above all, interviewing possible suppliers is a key component of choosing the right IT support provider. To help you with this process, here are a few questions to get you started. We’ll also includes the types of answers you should look for during your interviews.

1. Where are you based?

To clarify, the question where are- you based, we’re asking where are your – servers located. Where their servers are, can affect the quality of your services, if the IT outsourcing company will be providing services such as cloud hosting or VoIP.

In addition, GDPR and other laws can also have implications for data storage. In the case of companies, such as financial services or legal, being highly regulated sectors, this is especially true.

2. What geographical areas do you cover?

You can choose an IT support provider based in another state if you like. You no longer need to pick someone close. But you will need to make sure your provider can support you, if you’re planning to move premises or expand into other countries.  

3. Do you offer different levels of IT support?

To suit different budgets and requirements, many IT support companies offer a choice of service levels. This may include:

4. What exactly is supported in your contract?

If a Managed Service Provider claims to support everything, be cautious, especially if they haven’t detailed exactly what’s included.

Ensure you know what you’re signing up to. So many companies think they have complete cover, but discover later on there’s an extra charge for certain services. In other words, get clarity. You need to understand the level of support you are signing off on. Afterall, you don’t want to you risk getting tied into a contract that’s unsuitable. If you do happen to make a mistake about what you need, ask the Managed Service Provider to change your level of support to something more suitable.

5. What isn’t covered in the IT support contract?

It is important that you have examples of what may be billed separately. In other words, what isn’t covered in the IT support contract. Because there could be a number of services that are not included in the contract, especially when there’s a choice on the level of services. And it can all get a bit confusing.

So, if there are any services that are not included in the support contract, ask them what their hourly rate is. That way there’s no disappointment later on.

6. Do you have any guaranteed response times?

When it comes to response times you should expect your IT support to offer some sort of guarantee in case of a problem. It will depend on your service level and the amount you’re paying for, as to the exact response times. For instance, your Service Level Agreement (SLA) may require that a P1 (Priority 1 Issue) must have a response in 15 minutes.

Importantly, response time doesn’t equal resolve time. Therefore, you’ll need to clarify the timings and whether they’re in regard to response times or resolve times.

A word of caution again, if a company guarantees they will resolve an issue in a certain time- period. We all know issues always take longer than expected, to get to the heart of the problem. It would be hard for an IT company to guarantee when a specific issue will be fixed.

 

7. Do you provide remote management and monitoring?

Prevention is better than cure, so you want a provider who is proactive in their approach. Therefore, you want a company who offers constant monitoring. And who will also recommend the course of action required to prevent issues before they arise or a major disruption to your business occurs.

8. Will we get a dedicated account manager?

Meanwhile in- order to get the help you need and ensure your business needs are understood, it’s helpful to have a single point of contact at your new IT support company. Someone you can build a long-term relationship with, such as an Account Manager. It’s important to have one or two dedicated contacts you can deal with. It’s a reasonable expectation. Importantly, your Account Manager will come to know your business and plans for the future, to ensure the IT component aligns with your vision.

9. Will I get a dedicated engineer?

It may sound good to get the same engineer deal with our issues on a regular basis. But this may be an unreasonable expectation. As different technicains have different areas they specialise in. So you want the best person for that particular job. The IT support provider will assign the best-suited engineer for the job.

10. Do you work with specific hardware and software companies?

It’s great if your IT support provider has relationships with specific hardware and software companies. Often, they can find you a great deal on hardware and software, specific to your requirements. And can recommend technical specifications based on the employees needs, especially when it comes to hardware. For instance, processor speed, GB memory or dedicated graphic requirements.

11. How and when will I be charged?

The terms will vary for each IT support company. But in general billing occurs monthly and is payable in advance. Any ad-hoc or pay-as-you-go type work, can either come within 7 to 14 day- terms. Depending on credit checks and the type of work can vary the terms. Hardware cost for computers and big- ticket items may require an upfront payment.

12. How can we raise IT problems with you?

Issues with IT are frustrating and affect workflow. So, you want to ensure their Service Desk is easy to contact. Ask questions

  • about the support hours the IT company provides. Will their hours of support suit your business needs?
  • do they have a dedicated contact number?
  • or an online ticket system or a direct email address?

And if your contract happens to include 24/7 – 365 days a year support. How do you contact the service desk outside of normal business hours?

13. If I phone you, will I be able to speak directly to a technician who can help?

If you call the Service Desk will you speak to a technician straight away or does the call go to a call centre where a ticket is generated to establish issue and priority? It maybe necessary for your issue to be evaluated first to decide its priority level. But when we’re having issues, we like to speak with someone who can help.  

This list will provide you with a good foundation when you’re interviewing but isn’t exhaustive. You may have thought of some of your own questions you want to ask. The most important thing is that you ask questions that enable to choose wisely.