Once you grow beyond a few employees and machines, computers start to run slow, and IT issues begin to unravel. If you’re too small to hire full-time IT staff, outsourcing computer support to an IT services provider can be a cost-effective move.
But with so many companies offering competing IT services, how do you choose?
8 Revealing Questions for Your LA IT Services Provider
Don’t hire just any IT firm. Ask these eight critical questions to find the best long-term fit:
1. What IT services are included in your monthly agreement?
You don’t want to wait until an issue arises to realize it falls outside your IT services company’s wheelhouse.
At the very least, the company should include:
- Help desk support: Small computer issues spring up almost daily. Your IT support team should have the process in place to quickly respond to these minor issues.
- Cyber security: Digital security is critical to your small business, but not every IT services company is equipped for the job. Drill into the threat management, firewall, and virtual private network technologies the company uses, their patch management process and how they prevent cyber security issues.
- Risk management: Your IT services company should prevent IT issues; not respond to them. Evaluate how the IT team manages risk, audits your IT environment and what types of reports you can expect.
- User training and education: It’s one thing to introduce new technologies; it’s another to ensure every department is using it to the fullest. Understand the type of user training and education you’ll receive.
- Backup and disaster recovery: I covered 4 critical disaster recovery questions to ask your IT services company in a past blog post. Most importantly, you should uncover:
- Do you monitor onsite and offsite backups or rely on outdated tape backups?
- Do you frequently test restores of my backups?
- Could I see a written plan for how you would recover my company data in the event of a disaster?
2. Why should I hire you over another IT support company?
The best IT support companies know their strengths and weaknesses. If this question catches the company off guard, it probably offers service and protection.
3. Can you provide client referrals for companies similar to mine?
You should see proof before signing a managed services contract. If the company can’t provide strong customer referrals, it likely doesn’t provide standout services or excellent customer service.
4. What IT certifications does your team hold?
Technology is constantly changing, and your IT support company should commit to continuous education.
Forward-thinking IT support companies invest in employee training to stay ahead of the curve. If your company relies on vendors like Microsoft, Amazon or Cisco, make sure your IT firm has a firm grasp those platforms and technologies.
5. How much will IT support cost each month?
Of course, you’ll want to know how much IT support services will set you back each month. But instead of price shopping alone, investigate what each service includes. If you expect end-to-end IT services but the company only offers basic network support, that base price will quickly go up each month in add-ons.
Get a clear understanding of the offering and compare that alongside price to determine the best option.
6. How will you anticipate and plan for my future business needs?
You need a company that will be around for the long haul. You don’t want to discover the IT firm is unresponsive or inadequate after a few months and go back to the drawing board.
This question says a lot about your IT support company and separates the true IT partners from reactive service providers.
A long-term IT partner will take time to understand your short- and long-term business goals upfront and recommend ways to prepare for growth. They’ll meet with you every few months to review what’s changed and realign priorities.
Do your homework, and evaluate how the MSP will go the extra mile for your business.
7. How long have you been offering cloud services?
The future of technology is cloud. On-premises solutions won’t die any time soon, but the cloud is an entirely different beast. Your IT services firm should be prepared for the cloud revolution.
It’s not enough to offer cloud services. Ask how long the IT firm has been deploying cloud solutions. If it's less than five years, and the company doesn’t have many cloud customers, it might be stuck in the past.
Find a managed IT services company that has at least seven years of cloud experience under its belt. A longer cloud tenue means it's likely worked out the kinks — so you won’t be a guinea pig.
8. Where does your internal team fall short and how do you fill those gaps?
No MSP can be everything to every customer. Each undoubtedly has some weak areas.
For instance, some IT firms outsource help desk services. If this is the case, ask: Where are they located? How do you ensure service quality?
Look for an MSP that offers most core managed IT services in-house and only outsources specific projects to select, reputable companies. If they’re guarded around this question, there’s a good chance they rely heavily on outsourcing, and you should go elsewhere.