Furthermore, their dedicated service often means they have many cumulative years of experience. However, a managed IT service provider can provide outstanding value and return on investment for a small company without the need for a full-time IT department.
Many smaller companies should consider using a managed IT provider to provide IT and network support for their company’s IT services. In addition, a professional IT provider can help a company avoid having to pay a full-time IT employee.
When I’m considering outsourcing my IT needs to a managed provider, I look at five particular factors to help me make a determination. These five factors are:
- Physical Location
- Employee Training and Experience
- Service and Response Availability
- Security Posture
By considering these five factors, I can ensure that the provider I choose meets my company’s needs and gives me the best service for my budget. So let’s find out a little more about each.
While you may think that much of your company’s IT work can be done remotely, it’s still important to take in consideration your managed service provider’s location. Odds are, you’ll need some on-site work at some time, whether it’s hardware support or network support.
If your managed IT service provider isn’t located nearby, they may bill you for travel for a professional to come out and provide services. Even if they aren’t being remote means you don’t get immediate support, and your bottom-line is affected.
Do a quick internet search to find IT service providers near where you need the support so you have the timely help you need when you need it.
Employee Training and Experience
The next thing I consider when evaluating managed IT service providers is the collective training and experience their employees have. While you may not be able to determine exactly what training program the provider uses, you can ask what certifications individuals need.
There are a wide variety of certifications that IT professionals might have, and their job description determines which ones they hold. There are networking certifications, IT certifications, and cybersecurity certifications, among many others.
Many companies will provide this information upon request, or they’ll at least tell you what baseline certifications their employees are required to hold.
It will also help for you to ask how many years of experience the average employee has. Much of IT learning happens on the job, troubleshooting and solving problems, so service providers with more cumulative years of experience could provide better support to your company.
Service and Response Availability
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but the next thing I look at are the support hours and response times a company offers. When you have an IT issue that’s affecting your company’s ability to accomplish the mission, the last thing you want is an out-of-office message from your IT service provider.
Many managed service providers have 24-hour call centers, which is the bare minimum you should be looking for. Even if they don’t keep a robust team on call all day, they at least should have a skeleton crew of techs available for basic troubleshooting and to take tickets.
I also ask potential service providers about their response times in the event of an issue. Smaller providers might not be able to get to your issue immediately, or they might use some sort of tiered priority system to handle tickets from different customers.
Whatever their system, make sure you have a good understanding of how they handle trouble tickets so you have reasonable expectations in the event of an issue. You also want to make sure you’re getting the response time you’re paying for in your contract.
Your IT service provider might not offer robust cybersecurity protection, but at the very least, you’ll want to ask them about the type of network or end-device security they can support on your network.
Breaches can cost even smaller companies thousands of dollars, and it’s imperative that your IT infrastructure is designed and implemented with security in mind. To that end, use security posture to help separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of IT service providers.
Of course, you’re looking for the service provider who gives you the best value for your money, so I consider cost when I’m choosing one myself. The saying that you get what you pay for also applies here, however.
The result should be a careful balance between keeping your IT service budget manageable while at the same time choosing a provider that meets your needs. You can trim costs by having an accurate needs-assessment on-hand when you’re making your final determination. Don’t pay for extraneous offerings that won’t meet your needs.