So you’ve decided to outsource your IT services? Congratulations! You are joining a global market that has invested more than $85 billion dollars in outsourced IT. It is an efficient move that will free up time and resources while ensuring that experts are managing the technical and legal compliance side of your IT.
But deciding to outsource IT and actually signing on with an outsourcing company are two very different things. You obviously know the benefits of outsourcing; more access to cutting edge technologies, regular data backups with enhanced protective measures, and full-service IT for a low monthly cost. But how do you know which outsourced service is the best one to take your small business to the next level? As you research and interview IT companies, ask yourself the following questions:
How robust are their cybersecurity options?
One of the top reasons to choose outsourced IT is because it opens up a world of options for increased security measures. And you should ask what exactly those options entail when you interview service providers.
Ask how their services will defend your small business. Do they offer multiple layers of defense such as firewalls, anti-virus software, malware, spyware, and ransomware defense? Do they include password management, email encryption, and other additional protective measures? How will your data be stored? Who can access it? And what is their back-up and data recovery plan in case of breach? Can they provide network, endpoint, and application security? Do their services include managing your website and related apps, and what security measures are included for those? Is a VPN something they offer and can manage for you?
A good outsourced IT service provider will offer protection against disruption of services, multiple layers of defense, risk management, cyberattack reduction systems, prevention of third-party access to information, and a data recovery plan and process.
Are their services scalable?
As a small business owner, growth is at the forefront of your mind. You don’t want to sign a contract with a company and then find you’ve outgrown them a year or two down the line. You want an outsourced IT company that is going to provide scalable services to manage and support your IT needs at every stage of growth! So don’t just look into companies that can support your needs now. Ask yourself the critical questions about what you foresee needing next year, in five years, in ten years down the road.
You can also ask questions about how they have supported the growth of companies that have started where you are, and the steps they took to ensure that they have gone above and beyond to support their clients’ needs as they grew. Ask if they have specific recommendations for your small business if you chose to contract with them.
Are they experienced in serving your industry?
Depending on your industry and the clients you serve, what you need in terms of IT support can vary widely. You want to work with a service provider that isn’t just an expert in IT; you want experts in IT related to your specific field. For example, if you are working in healthcare, you need a company that understands the technology specific to the medical field, has high-level security protocols and regular data back-ups, and an awareness of HIPAA regulations and privacy protocols.
Take time to think through the aspects of what makes your industry unique. We’ve already mentioned the importance of data security and privacy, so think beyond that to specific IT needs that are unique to your small business. As you interview potential service providers, don’t be afraid to ask them how they can deliver top-notch IT services that are specific to your needs.
Select a company that is established and knowledgeable in serving your industry. Their expertise will go beyond knowing the ins and outs of IT quirks that affect your field. They’ll also be knowledgeable on cutting edge technologies that can elevate the work you do, in addition to having their finger on the pulse of new and upcoming cybersecurity threats that could affect your small business. Their expertise in your field of service will help your small business adapt quickly to emerging technologies while responding efficiently to the latest in cybercrime threats related to your industry.
What is their process for client communication?
Beyond the security measures, scalable services, and industry-specific offerings, you should have an understanding of how a managed IT service provider will communicate with you. What level of communication will they have with you and what medium will they communicate through? What are your expectations for how and when they will communicate, and how does that align with their best practices? How will you manage communication if you are in different time zones, limiting your concurrent business hours? Will communication be directed through one individual, or will you have a team working to manage your needs? Do they have a 24/7 customer service line, and if not what is their availability for troubleshooting urgent matters?
What is their fee structure?
Many outsourced IT providers offer levels of packaged services so you can select the option that best fits your current needs. Most will offer several levels of packages so that you can easily scale up as your small business grows and your needs increase. Some providers offer a more limited amount of services, but do so for a reasonable monthly fee.
As you interview service providers, find out how their fees are structured and what packages they offer that best fit your needs. It is also worth it to ask if they offer customized packages or are willing to create a unique package that will fit your needs and your budget. Knowing what is and is not available within your budget can help you make a financially wise choice for your managed IT service provider.
Tech Masters offers managed services for all your small business IT needs for a low monthly fee. Schedule a free consultation to find out more about the services and security we offer and how we can partner with you to grow your small business.
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