Let’s face it- technology is a fickle beast, and finding the right IT provider is essential to the stability, security and sanity of almost any business. Left to themselves, most business owners find themselves resorting to trial-and-error.
Hiring and firing different providers will often make a bigger mess out of things than before.
Whether you already have an IT provider or are in the market for one, here is our list of 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Technology Provider:
Networks never sleep, and neither should your IT support.
Stay away from providers who make you feel like you’re putting them out by calling after hours. Choose a company that takes pride in delivering top-tier customer support, letting you know they are available to respond and react to alerts and threats 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
2. Response Time
Quick response times are important. When searching for a company that can meet your business needs, be sure to test how eager they are to assist. How long does it take them to respond to an email? Return a call? A text? How about respond to a service call?
Avoid impersonal providers that forward calls to call centers, and ask if they provide a maximum response time.
3. On-Site Support
Remote access is essential to resolving issues quickly in more than one place at a time, but don’t discount the need to have your techs close by in case something goes wrong.
Using a local IT company ensures that help is never too far away.
4. Employee Help-Desk Support
It’s no secret that computers can be frustrating. And nothing works slower than a disgruntled employee, frustrated with the lack of attention and resources available for making their job easier. On the other hand, providing access to tech support keeps employees happier and productivity higher.
Make sure your IT provider is able to deliver fast answers and utilize remote access to resolve issues quickly.
5. Comprehensive Service Menu
Your IT company is only as strong as the services it provides. Armed with the right tools, managing networks, workstations and servers becomes a largely automated system of checks, scans, reports and alerts.
Here are the services we don’t think you can live without:
- a managed antivirus service to stay on top of threat detection and removal
- web protection to block employees from known malicious sites
- a patch management system for keeping systems up-to-date,
- automated cloud backup services to ensure your data is safe in case of disaster,
- and risk assessment scanning to detect sensitive data, such as credit card or social security numbers.
6. Disaster Recovery Planning
Are you prepared for the worst? Your IT provider should be.
Weather disasters, theft, vandalism and fire are just a few threats to critical business data. With this in mind, your chosen provider must be able to assess infrastructure needs and lay out a continuity plan to protect your data in case of any event.
7. Daily Backups and Cloud Services
Further expounding on the previous item, the first step in disaster prevention planning is implementing an automated backup solution. Daily backups will keep files from getting deleted or lost over time.
Backing up to local storage only is not ideal. By utilizing cloud services, data is backed up to a safe, off-site storage location. And we have 7 world-wide data centers to provide maximum redundancy and availability.
8. Security Testing and Monitoring
Automated checks and security scans are essential to helping protect your network from cyber-criminals and hackers. A good IT provider will have a layered security model in place that maximizes threat detection and minimizes threat exposure.
Can your IT provider assess the financial liability of your network? Are there checks and alerts in place to make sure essential tasks such as antivirus and backup are completing successfully?
With Sentry, we are able to receive and respond to alerts via our proprietary app, and it’s fully integrated with remote access.
9. Proactive Maintenance
Your IT company shouldn’t sit back waiting for something to break.
Keeping security patches up-to-date for both the operating system and essential applications is essential to minimizing threat exposure.
In addition, regular maintenance keeps your workstations and servers running like new, day in and day out.
10. Annual IT Budget Planning
Our final tip is to choose a provider that cares about you and your business enough to help you plan for success.
A quality IT company will be eager to assess your business needs over the long-run, helping you save money and improve workplace efficiency. Forward-thinking providers will also help you stay on top of technologies that will help your company grow.
Choosing an IT provider is no easy task, and we strongly urge businesses to take a proactive approach. Asking questions and interviewing multiple providers will go a long way toward finding the right fit for your IT needs.