Whether you are a growing company that is interested in finding a local IT company for the first time, or a business that has worked with IT providers in the past, finding the right local IT company to partner with is incredibly important for your business. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for managed IT services, therefore a good place to start is by identifying your needs as a business. Business needs change based on products or services offered, as well as by your client’s needs, such as uptime, responsiveness and accessibility. First, let’s start by discussing why you are looking for a managed IT service provider.
Why Are You Looking for a Local Managed Service Provider?
Does a managed IT team feel like something you should have, but you really don’t know what to expect? Or have you had a bad experience with an existing provider, and you are looking for something new? Either way, it is critical to identify the needs of your business. For example, every company has an underlying layer of technology that is involved in the day-to-day activities of servicing clients.
For some companies, this may simply be email and the desktop computers utilized in accessing email. Other companies may use email, but also manage more complexities such as digitally or physically stored products, payment credentials, client information, and more. Typically, as the amount of information or quantity of products managed increase, there is more software involved in producing, tracking, managing, and selling products and services integral to your business.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask your team before speaking with a local managed IT provider:
- What types of data, or information, are you managing for your clients?
- How sensitive is this data if it were to be accessed by an unauthorized party?
- What would the impact be to your business if the data you managed was lost or corrupted? Do you have backups of this data quickly accessible?
- Which software applications are vital to your operations?
- Who is currently managing, updating, and upgrading software in your company?
- How often are they checking to make sure you are up to date with your vital software components?
- If you have a current provider, are they communicating and planning software updates for your company?
While answering these questions, you may find several more questions and discussion points surface as a result. It is good to ask these questions (and find answers!) when you are not in the middle of a disaster recovery event, or worse – a ransomware event. This allows you to prepare for hiccups or sizable IT related events that interrupt your business operations.
What Should I look for in a Local IT Company?
Every business provides a different level of service and responsiveness to their clients. Depending on your company and operations, it is advised to discuss service level agreements (SLAs) with your managed service provider. If your business is fast paced, your IT company should probably be quick to respond as well. Responsiveness is critical when it comes to IT diagnostics and IT recovery for small businesses before the client is impacted in a significant way.
Additionally, it is important that you have discussed onsite visits with your managed IT provider. With remote desktop access is common for IT companies to troubleshoot your IT problems offsite, however, if they have to come onsite to visit your facilities you may want to know if they plan on charging for each visit.
If your current local IT provider is not responsive to your needs, it may be worth discussing responsiveness expectations with alternative IT managed service companies that can be a better partner for your business needs.
Expertise & Certifications
When researching local IT companies, it is important that the managed service provider is familiar with the software, or similar software, utilized by your company for operations. It is unlikely that every IT company has experience with every software imaginable, so it is important that you find a provider willing to understand, or even become certified, in software that is important to your business.
A clear understanding of the IT regulations surrounding your industry is important as well. For example, HIPAA compliance is crucial for healthcare providers or similar industries that managed personal health information (PHI) or personally identifiable information (PII). If you are a medical provider, it may be a good idea to find companies that have expertise in HIPAA IT regulations.
Other certifications may be more specific to a particular vendor’s product, such as Microsoft. Certifications for Microsoft include Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate for Office365, Silver Microsoft Partner, or Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate for Windows Server.
Lastly, it is extremely important that any provider you work with has proper insurance to protect your company. This should protect your company from unplanned outages or downtime that may result in losses for your business.
Ultimately, selecting a managed it company to be a partner in running your business’ IT infrastructure should come down to trustworthiness and confidence in their ability to protect and manage your digital assets. Inherently, a managed IT provider will have in-depth access to your IT systems. It is important you speak with other clients and better understand their experiences before partnering with a local IT company. Any reputable managed service provider will be able to provide a list of references that you could reach out to. In addition to references, make sure to check their reviews online. This will give insight into the type of service you would receive if you were to work with them.
Through this vetting process, you will learn more about the responsiveness and expertise brought to the table by potential IT partners. This will give you the confidence to select a company that you know can get the job done.
Other Questions Worth Asking
- What is their average client size?
Some Managed IT companies focus on larger clients, meaning smaller companies will not be a priority. Find a provider that services companies close to your company size, so you can be sure you will always be a priority to them.
- What partnerships does the company have with vendors?
Managed Service Providers with partnerships can help past cost savings on to their clients. Many partnerships with vendors will provide significant savings, well surpassing anything that could be found online. In addition, other vendor partnerships provide access to software/equipment that are only obtainable when working with an MSP.
- Will they work as a partner in big company decisions?
IT providers can be a valuable asset when making company decisions. They work with other companies and have likely come across the new software you are considering and could have insight that is very important when making the decision on whether or not it is the right fit. Managed service providers can also help to budget out for future projects. Maybe in the future you are looking to expand to a new location. They should help to prepare you on the equipment that will be needed and what the setup will consist of.