It Managed Service Providers – Making The Relationship Work
Over the past few years, the concept of running your company with a small skeleton team and outsourcing other major roles to other places has become increasingly feasible. While it can clearly help to minimise the inevitable impact of international pandemics, it also means that you can avoid a lot of the difficulties associated with keeping a large team running smoothly.
Because IT is so increasingly important to companies of all kinds, it’s understandable that IT is being outsourced by more and more businesses. As a constantly evolving area that requires a high level of specialization, it makes complete sense to outsource your needs to an external company with greater expertise. However, this importance is a double-edged sword; if it’s so important to the running of your business, how do you know who to trust with it?
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the different areas you should take to task when considering or working with an IT support provider who will meet your business needs.
Finding a Reputable Company
So, you’ve decided you want to outsource your IT requirements to a specialist provider – where do you start looking for a good company? While Google can be useful in many situations, a company having good enough SEO to appear at the top of searches doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to deliver exactly what you need in terms of network systems and infrastructure.
Therefore, you should talk to any partner companies about who they might be outsourcing their IT needs to. Instead of inquiring with a company then feeling awkward about backing out, you can get a testimonial separately to make an informed choice without getting too involved. – this is especially useful if the company who hired them is similar to your own.
But if you don’t have a huge contact list of similar businesses to contact for recommendations on potential providers, you can always use online business networking websites like LinkedIn to find companies that providers have worked with. You can find a business similar to your own in size and industry, then look at any IT connections they might have. Even if you don’t directly message them, this can give you some concept of the providers in your industry or area, and hopefully of their reputation too!
Building a Positive Relationship
For many business owners, IT is a foreign language that they have no plans to master; for others, it could be a key area of interest that they remain personally updated on. Regardless of where you fall on this scale of interest, you should be able to find a provider that meets you and your team’s level of understanding. You can usually tell whether this will be a problem within the first few instances of conversation; if they speak entirely in jargon that you can’t begin to understand, you may have some communication issues if you end up working together.
This doesn’t mean that you need to brush up on your IT knowledge so that you can start to grasp what they’re saying – it actually means basically the opposite. If your provider can’t explain IT concepts to you in a way that doesn’t make your head spin, then you’ll know that working with them could be difficult. It’s vital that you understand exactly what you’re investing your money into with IT growth, and your provider should be able to make this crystal clear to you.
Growing Your Business Together
If you’re looking into providers, you might be finding the company that is alongside you when you reach significant financial milestones. Whether that means turning over $5,000 or $1,000,000, you need to make sure that anyone you hire is able to match your ambitions and goals – this is where asking the right questions early on can be so important.
Your IT provider isn’t like the supplier that ships over your pens and pencils; once they’re an established part of your IT systems, switching to someone else is a tricky task. Therefore, you’ll want to find a company that is willing to grow with your needs, propelling you forward rather than holding you back. A few questions you could ask prospective providers include:
- Can you keep up with our current goals?
- What goals do they foresee in their own future?
- What would they do if you told them you’d landed a multi-million dollar contract?
- Can they provide your business with quick infrastructure changes if possible?
A company will be reluctant to admit if this is beyond their remit, so it’s important to ask these questions and carefully gauge their responses so that you can be confident they’ll support you in the years to come.
Writing a Bespoke Service Level Agreement
When you get a new phone, you likely won’t need to change your contract to suit you. But this absolutely isn’t the case when you’re working with a managed service provider, who will need to provide services specifically tailored to your exact requirements and plans.
You should always talk to any potential IT provider about what a contract with them would contain. They may have standard packages that fit your needs, but the likelihood is that you’ll need to map out a service with them that’s made especially for you and your business. For instance, do you want to achieve certain uptime figures? Do you have any specific growth plans? Do you require 24/7 systems monitoring? These are all potential questions to bring up in early talks.
It can be useful to see everything you need to be documented – after all, the IT provider is there to suit your needs perfectly, not to force you into a plan that doesn’t suit what you require. It can be convenient when an off the rack plan suits your business, but don’t let the immediate convenience make you settle for less. If the company isn’t willing to budge on what they provide, then you should be moving on and looking for one that will actively work with you on a bespoke set of services.