There are seemingly countless IT service providers to choose from these days, and it can be challenging to tell one from another. However, not all IT service providers are created equal. Some offer independent services, while others are part of larger firms. Some are new to the field, while others have been around for years. There are also companies that put out slick marketing to grab your attention but make it hard to tell if they really live up to the hype.
Well, we’re here to help you cut through the clutter. You want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing and is going to take care of your business the right way. To do that, there are a few questions you should ask every IT expert before you let them anywhere near your network to ensure you’ll be in good hands.
- What’s your IT experience?
Education, certifications and hands-on experience are all important. You want to know your “expert” is actually an expert. It’s all too easy for someone to pass themselves off as an expert when they really have limited experience, so you should never hire an individual or a company without vetting them first. After all, this person (or team) will be handling EXTREMELY sensitive hardware and data essential to the operation of your business. This isn’t time to take risks or give someone the benefit of the doubt. When you work with an IT services company or MSP, you can generally expect that the people you work with are educated and experienced, but you should always ask. It’s okay to dive in and ask them about their certifications, how long they’ve been doing their job and how familiar they are with your industry. And if you aren’t sure what certain certifications are, feel free to ask follow-up questions. There’s a very good chance they’ll be more than happy to answer all of your questions, especially if they’re a true professional who knows what they’re doing!
- What’s your IT approach?
There are different approaches to IT and network security. You have the old-fashioned break-fix approach, and you have the modern proactive approach. The break-fix approach used to be the staple of the IT industry – it was the business model of just about every IT support firm in the 1990s and into the early 2000s. This approach is pretty straightforward: Something breaks, so you hire someone to come in and fix it. If many things break or something complicated breaks, you could be looking at a pretty hefty bill – not to mention the costs associated with downtime. Today, quality providers take a proactive approach (and if they don’t, look elsewhere). They don’t wait for something to break – they’re already on it, monitoring your network 24/7, looking for outside threats or internal issues. They use advanced software that can identify trouble before it strikes. That way, they can go to work proactively protecting your business so you avoid those hefty bills and long downtimes. These are companies that are willing to collaborate with you and your business to make sure you’re protected, your IT needs are met, and you’re getting your dollars’ worth.
- What’s your GUARANTEED response time?
This question often gets overlooked, but it’s one that can make or break your business – and it can make or break your relationship with your IT service provider. You need to know that you won’t be left in the dark when something goes wrong within your network. If you’re experiencing a cyber-attack or a power surge has taken out part of your server, the cost to your business can be catastrophic if your IT service provider can’t get to you right away. The longer you have to wait, the worse it can get.
You need to work with someone who can give you a guaranteed response time in writing. It should be built into their business model, or better yet, the contract they want you to sign when you hire their services. They should be doing everything they can to instill confidence that they’ll be there for you when you need them. If you’re working with an IT company that doesn’t have your full confidence, you may need to rethink that relationship.