Choosing the right IT provider for your business is a serious decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This company or individual will be responsible for the well-being of various elements critical to your organization’s operations. Let’s go over what to look for when you’re choosing an IT provider; whether it is the first time or if you are considering replacing your current provider, these tips will help you make the right decision.
Don’t let past experience ruin your opinion of IT providers
Your provider should feel internal to your team and not as an outsider. Unfortunately, there are dishonest providers out there who give the rest of us a bad name; along with being unreliable, and difficult to work with. That being said, there are also a lot of great providers out there that will exceed expectations. Working with them for even a brief time will completely change your views on what IT can really do for you. Negative past experiences with outsourced providers have lead some organizations to skip “external” IT support altogether and attempt to delegate the issues to internal staff. This might seem like a good idea but it can backfire and make you wish that you didn’t make this decision. It costs nothing to meet/interview providers so why not do it? It might take some time to find the right provider but you will be happy you did it.
Make sure they are the right “fit” for your organization
What do we mean by right “fit” for your organization? We mean that they fall in line with your organization’s culture; they can adapt in and thrive with the processes and people and become an extended hand of your organization. This is something that you will have to meet the prospective provider to figure out. While meeting with them, try and get a feel for the kind of person they are. You can do this by analyzing the various aspects of the person representing the provider. For example, how are their communication skills (verbal and written)? What does their body language say? Do they emulate the kind of person you would hire as an employee? The checkboxes and alarms should be similar to conducting a candidate interview and, following some of the same principles should give you an idea of what to expect from the person going forward. Also, try to find out who will be involved in your day-to-day operations. For example, you might meet a sales representative at first visit, but what about who will be handling technical requests? It is ideal if you can meet/speak with everybody who will have a role in your organization’s IT success.
Prioritize soft skills over technical knowledge and experience
This doesn’t seem right, hear us out. Why wouldn’t you want the most technically-proficient provider handling your IT? More often than not in the small business sector, the IT environment in your organization doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, our experience shows that having a simplified IT environment correlates to limited/no downtime. This means you don’t need a technician with a long list of dated enterprise accreditation and credentials to look after your environment (if your setup correlates with the scope of your organization). While technical experience plays a role, it is far more important to have a provider you can effectively communicate with. We have come across many individuals with 20+ year technical backgrounds that have the following issues:
- Inability to differentiate between small business and corporate IT. They end up implementing complicated solutions with high maintenance requirements resulting in an IT footprint that is unsuitable for SMB’s.
- They are seen as difficult to get along with among the staff at the organization as they don’t know how to be “down to earth”. They are unable to turn off technical jargon and communicate effectively depending on the audience which leads to them being perceived as a means to an end as opposed to a valued member of the team.
Don’t underestimate your IT needs
“We are too small of an organization, we don’t need IT help.”
This is an example of what we hear from time to time. It may be true to some degree but it could also end up being a terrible mistake. First, let’s dissect why people say this; we think the reason stems from a stigma out there that IT support is unattainable for small businesses. Whether it is because these organizations believe the support is too expensive or just a fear of the unknown, we are not really sure. To clarify, IT support with the RIGHT provider is attainable for any small business, even as small as one employee. Consider this: as a small business owner, you believe your operations are too small to get IT help. In the event of a terrible system crash and data loss, chances are that you could go out of business or another major setback that could have been prevented. Can you trust yourself that you have a proper disaster recovery plan in place? Don’t ever be afraid to reach out and get an evaluation or assessment done on your environment, no matter how small of an organization you are. You owe it to yourself as a business owner to make sure all aspects of your business are in order, even IT.
There are IT providers everywhere, don’t excuse or put up with bad behaviour
The truth is that IT providers are a dime a dozen. There is a provider out there to meet any organization’s needs. The tricky part is finding one that fits yours. While there are hundreds of providers out there, good and bad, only a small subsection will be able to fit your organization. It is worth every ounce of effort to find the provider that “fits” your company, the difference could be like night and day.
Don’ be a hostage. There’s no benefit or excuse for poor behaviour (ie. Rudeness to staff, procrastination, repeat mistakes). Allocate time to meet with various providers, get a feel for what kind of service comes with the budget you have. Do yourself and your staff the favour and see what’s out there before that one critical mistake is made which damages your business.