Finding a new IT partner can be one of the most challenging decisions a company can make, and there are a lot of variables that go into it. When you essentially give the keys to the kingdom for your technology to someone outside your business, there can be risks. That’s why it’s important to do your due diligence when considering a potential partnership to ensure you mitigate as much risk as possible.
Finding the right kind of technology partner is tricky; knowing the type of collaboration you’re looking for and setting correct expectations up front will help ensure you are well taken care of in such a partnership.
Here are some key things to look for when choosing a Managed IT partner in Dallas.
Think of your closest friends outside of work. Do they push you and hold you accountable when you mess up? Are they as successful as you are in their personal and professional lives? To be successful, it helps to surround yourself with people who uphold your values and are as prosperous or more successful than you are.
These principles also apply to business partnerships; just because their representatives are good people doesn’t necessarily make them the right business partners. If they’re not running their own business successfully or as well as you are, how can you entrust them to make sure your business is secure and running as well as it should?
A way to verify a potential partner’s status is to ask about employee and client turnover. If they consistently lose employees and clients, something is wrong. Check online reviews, like Glassdoor and Google. Finally, ask for references specific to your industry to make sure they truly understand what you need and know what they’re doing, not just listing it on their website.
Finally, it’s ok to ask how the company is doing financially. If they can’t give a confident, straight answer, that’s another red flag. Don’t be afraid to verify their success to make sure it aligns with your company’s goals. Great companies that partner together always breed greater success.
Are they local?
This topic depends on what you’re looking for in a partnership. If you’re looking for someone to do backend support for your current IT staff, local support may not be as critical. If you’re looking for someone to completely take care of your IT needs, however, a local presence is critical.
One of the first things to consider is whether your outsourced IT provider has local people working in the DFW area. Understanding the culture of the metroplex is vital, even from the most basic considerations. If bad weather is on the way, will they be proactive and ensure your office and data are secure and that you stay up and running? In a day and age where more services are going virtual and the only interactions you have with their people is online, having someone come in and look you and your employees in the eye gives peace of mind that a video conference or chat session simply can’t provide.
Make sure, though, that the company isn’t just a large national chain with one or two token salespeople who simply work from their homes in the metroplex. It’s a sinking feeling when you think your Managed IT provider is local only to find out they have no idea who you are the first time you call for technical support (which might be located across the country or across the globe). You’ll immediately wish you had a local business helping you. Ask where your potential partner’s offices are located in the metroplex area and visit them to quickly get a sense of how local they really are.
Process, Process, Process
Most of the IT providers you meet with will say a lot of the same things:
- We have vCIO to do quarterly meetings
- We provide new user setups
- We provide security software
- We have quick call resolution
- And the list goes on…
The only way to compare companies when they all seem very similar is by comparing their processes. Have them show you the documentation they use for their quarterly meetings and reports proving they meet quarterly with their clients. Have them give you an example of a new user setup template to help ensure they have a process for setting up systems and equipping people correctly every time.
Just as important is having them provide documentation and the names of all security software they’ve leveraged to address a major breach that one of their clients had. The hard truth is that it happens to everyone, so saying none of their clients have gotten hacked isn’t true. Finally, ask for documentation on ticket times for responses and resolutions. A well-run IT company will be able to provide these metrics for you, but know that it’s less about the exact times and more about them having the internal processes in place to help them consistently get better results for you.
Expertise and Experience
The unfortunate old saying, “you get what you pay for,” rings genuine here. Think of your company in the marketplace; Why do you charge your clients the prices you do? It’s because you have years of experience and specialized expertise your competitors can’t match. It frustrates you when your competitors undercut you on price and devalue your expertise and experience. The same holds true for the companies you choose to partner with.
Look for an IT provider with staff that is certified in various IT specializations, and know that the person you receive guidance from has experience in dealing with your type of business. You can take tax advice from almost any attorney, but wouldn’t you want to take it from an experienced attorney that practices tax law?
Likewise, verify that your Managed IT provider is qualified by asking how they’ve developed and implemented IT strategies at companies that are similar to your own and the successes those clients have had as a result. Call their references; this is one of the best ways to know whether they’re delivering on their promises and providing proper guidance and expertise.
Keep asking questions
When choosing a Managed IT service in Dallas, the best thing to remember is to ask questions. Ask open-ended questions that help you learn more about the person, the company and its people rather than simply asking, “Do you supply AV and spam filtering?” Nearly every IT provider has access to the same tools. It’s a matter of how they’re using them and whether they have the experience and processes in place to help turn your technology into a profit center instead of a cost center.
We all know that at the end of the day it's about how much you can afford and how it affects your bottom line. Make sure you work with someone who understands your budget constraints and provides technology solutions that make a positive effect on your bottom line.