How do you know when you’re getting good value from your IT provider? For most companies, the answer is not so simple. In fact, many companies just make their decision based on cost, assuming all IT companies are alike. But they aren’t – not by a long shot.
It’s important to ensure you’re getting the best value from your IT provider. For starters, make sure they’re providing you with these 5 core services:
1. Service Level Agreement. This is your IT provider’s guarantee to you and takes out all ambiguity in your relationship. This is essential. Too many small businesses believe that if something is technology related their IT provider will automatically cover it – when this is not the case. By spelling out the terms of your service agreement with the provider, you will know exactly what to expect and hold the provider accountable. Otherwise, you’re at their whim.
2. Work with other vendors. Your managed services provider should work with your other technology vendors to make sure that everything works harmoniously. This is particularly true for line-of-business software, where there might be kinks to work out with your operating systems or servers to make everything seamless. Your IT provider should be focused on improving your productivity and not resorting to finger-pointing with the software vendor.
3. Multiple layers of security. There is no software suite or single solution that will adequately protect your business from all of today’s security threats. That doesn’t stop some IT providers from offering security services that include only antivirus and firewall and telling you that it’s adequate (it’s not). Your security should offer you multiple layers of protection, drawing from the best manufacturers for each layer, not relying on a canned solution. These layers are now more scalable and affordable, so they can better meet the needs of small business.
4. Remote access. As the business landscape shifts to accommodate more remote work, your technology needs to follow suit. This is something that small businesses can easily afford now without taking risks or making large investments on infrastructure. Your IT provider should be able to offer you multiple options that help remote employees securely connect to company networks.
5. Future planning. Technology pushes us forward and a good IT provider will be thinking ahead with you. That means everything from forecasting for the lifespan of your technology to helping you budget for upgrades and plan for the downtime that occurs during systems upgrades.
Sometimes, providers don’t provide the services your company truly needs, but you might not even find that out until a crisis hits. Even with these core services, if you don’t feel like your IT provider is a partner to your company, then chances are that you’re not getting the best value for your IT dollar.