What to look for in an IT provider

The relationship between technology and running a business has rapidly evolved over the last few years, making it even more important to have a professional IT staff by your side.

Whether it’s increasing your team’s efficiency or keeping your business safe from hackers, technology has the ability to make or break your business. But with so many IT guys popping around the block, how do you know which one is right for your business?

The truth is, there’s a huge problem in the IT industry today. So many IT companies pride themselves on what the industry considers “Permissions to Play,” to the point where they’re all starting to sound the same. I’m talking about things like:

  • Fixing computers
  • Having a fast response time
  • Great customer service
  • Having smart people…

I mean which IT company CAN’T do all of those things fairly well?

When looking into partnering with an IT company, you need to look for a company that will take a more in-depth role in your technology, as it relates to running and growing your business. It’s not about hiring some techy guys to fix your computers. It’s about having a professional CIO by your side, every step of the way.

So what services should you really be looking for?

IT Consulting

Building your competitive edge calls for hard work, some serious talent, and a whole lot of perseverance. But, do you know what else it takes? Technology.

You create strategies for every aspect of your business, and the same must be done for technology. Thinking of opening up a second office? Concerned about the efficiency and security of your remote staff and devices? Are your employees wasting time on sites like Facebook and Monster.com on your dime?

IT consulting is what you’re looking for. The good IT Company will hold regular meetings with you and your team to discuss any concerns, upcoming projects and growth plans. Together, you will create a technology roadmap to ensure everything happens on time and on budget.

 

Compliance as a Service

Compliance challenges are common in the workplace, especially as the laws change and develop. Protection of the customer’s privacy is a hotbed issue, and if you operate any kind of business that deals with health records or credit cards, you must be compliant or face fines and penalties.

But being fully compliant is easier said than done. Managing and maintaining your compliance and levels of security can be daunting, time-consuming, and will more than likely require specialized IT expertise. Make sure to look for an IT provider that will assist you in meeting compliance laws, whether it’s HIPAA, PCI, or whatever other compliance law you need to meet. This service typically includes a comprehensive risk assessment, regular audits, tracking and documentation of all changes made to the database, and ongoing issue detection.

 

Vendor Management

IT companies are directly responsible for managing the majority of your on-site and off-site technology. They resolves issues you may be having with your computers, network connectivity, and hardware, just to name a few.

But what if your printer breaks? What if you’re frustrated with the speed of your internet? What if you’re having to spend hours trying to get a hold of customer support to get your main business applications running properly?

An IT company that truly takes an in-depth role in your company will not only manage the technology they install, but will also manage your other technology vendors. So when that copier breaks, you can rest assure that your IT Company will work to get it resolved in a timely manner. This allows you to focus on your business- not your vendors.

 

Flat-Rate IT Services

Another big problem in the IT industry today: IT companies are notorious for luring you in with a low monthly rate, only to nickel and dime you to death by the end of the month. They’ll charge you for things like onsite support, 24/7 helpdesk, project management, they’ll even charge you for parts! Now how the heck do you budget for any of that?

A respectable IT company will charge you one flat-monthly rate that never changes for the duration of the agreement, unless you add something new, of course.  Things break and go wrong all the time and when it’s least expected. By having a flat-rate service, you’ll never have to worry about going over budget, no matter how often these issues occur.

 

There are many other services to consider in addition to ones listed above. Project management, proof of Concept lab testing, internal security training, mobile phone support, the list could go on for pages.

Every company is unique, so make sure the IT provider you’re speaking to does a full network assessment before coming onboard. Only then will they truly be able to provide you the solution that makes the most sense for your business.

As you can see, it’s not about just fixing computers anymore. When you hire an IT provider, you’re hiring a fully-staffed technology staff to become an extension of your business.

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