Choosing the right partner doesn’t have to be hard….
Whether you are a start-up, an established business or looking to grow, you will more than likely be faced with the question of “Who is the right IT partner for me?” Companies of all sizes, phases, and industries depend on technology more and more as it advances. While technology in business has many advantages, it also comes with its set of challenges and selecting the right partner can be crucial. This could be the difference between smooth transitions or one with many roadblocks, headaches, lost profits, or unrealized potential.
Selecting the right IT partner can be difficult to navigate when the sea is full of different options. Should you choose to go with a small or large company? A one man shows or would your tech savvy friend be a good option? There is no wrong answer. There is only which one is right for you? So, here are 5 things to look out for when selecting the RIGHT IT partner.
- Business Model – There are two types of IT companies out there. Those who provide what’s called a “Break/Fix” model (something’s broken; you call to get it fixed and are charged per incident) and a “Managed Service” model (this is like IT as a service kind of like Netflix). Most managed service providers charge a monthly fee and what they provide for that monthly fee can vary from company to company. The difference is that most managed service providers work proactively to keep systems running. Which of these sounds like a better fit for your company and helping it be more efficient?
- Availability – How much does your company depend on technology? If the answer is “We can’t work without it”, then the availability of your IT partner is going to have to weigh considerably. If you can afford an in-house IT person this is where you would decide that. If you cannot then it would be best to look for a company that will be available during your business hours. A good question to ask any IT person/company would be “What is your response time like?” If they do not have a clear answer; you may need to seek a larger team.
- Technical Methodology and Tool Set – I would have placed experience in this slot but gone are the days of needing years upon years of experience in technical school. Being “Techie” is a notch in almost everyone’s tool belts since Google is a pretty good tool. So, that is not enough these days. When selecting an IT partner, understanding what their methods are and tools they use to help you is a big deal. Are their methods the right ones for your company? What are their best practices? What is their process? Can they make your business more efficient? Do they use tools like remote support? Can they monitor your equipment or software? Could this make a difference in your business?
- Industry Knowledge – This is so important. It can save you time when your IT partner knows your software, specific hardware, regulations, and security measures. If you are in an industry that is regulated by the government or have high-security measures to uphold, this is an even bigger deal! Working with an IT partner that also abides by the same rules and regulations AND can give you the right advice for your industry is key. Not having the right partner for your industry would be a large risk. There are too many stories of healthcare offices losing everything because their IT did not have the right security measures in place and did not have the right agreement with them. Do not let this be you! Avoid costly mistakes, fines, and loss of business because you did not do your homework! Questions to ask an IT company to help you determine if you are going in the right direction:
- Do you have experience with my industry?
- Have you worked with my software before or something like it?
- What security measures do you put in place?
- Are you aware of industry regulations, rules, and/or policies?
- How do you keep up to date with these?
- Lastly, Personality! – Yes, Personality! It is very difficult to communicate in general, and even harder about technology. Find a partner that you connect with and can communicate effectively! This is your business after all, and you should be able to understand fully what is happening and why. You nor your employees should feel bad, embarrassed, or frustrated about asking for help from an IT partner. That is what they have been hired for after all. Take into consideration the right personality. An IT company or person can become an extension of your team and if you would not hire them to work in your office, do not hire them to be your IT. Find the right fit.
The next time you have IT companies lined up vying for your business, take this out and put them on this checklist! Want to make sure your current IT partner is still the right fit? If they meet all your criteria based on the above, then give them a chance! If they do not, do not waste time or money. Keep looking. The right partner could be the next call.