Outsourcing your IT services - IT Done Right
This can be a daunting and scary task. Your IT Support team is an integral part of your business, and IT has access to all your company's sensitive and private information.
Selecting a new IT Partner has many challenges but it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the technology. Outsourcing a service such as IT is great way to save money and gain efficiencies, but it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. There can be a significant cost in making a mistake and selecting an organization that is not a good fit for your business.
There are many IT companies that will provide "Managed Services" (the industry name for outsourced IT Services) for your business; some companies might be great technically, some might be a good fit culturally with your organization, and others aren’t either. So how do you select the right one? Nowadays, most IT Services providers provide some sort of Fixed Fee IT Service. This means that for a flat monthly fee, they will take care of some/most/all of your technology services needs.
Of all the IT Service Providers in your area, how do you find the one that best fits your business? You need to do your due diligence and ask the right questions.
Here are a few questions to ask of service providers to help you make a (hopefully) good decision. A solid IT company should be able to provide answers to these questions.
1. How does your service offering look like? Is it hourly? Fixed Fee? What services are covered? What services are NOT covered? When dealing with a reputable and experienced IT Service provider, they should be able to provide you with and clear understanding of exactly what they are selling and what you are buying. At VPSG, we have many non technical Best Practices, and one is to define and set the clients expectations as clearly as possible. If it’s not outside the scope of the Managed Services agreement, you need to know before the work gets done.
2. How long have you been in business and how experienced are your techs? It doesn’t make good business sense (or cents) to work with a company that is learning on your dime. You want to make sure the company that you select to support your business critical technology has relevant experience and also can understand how technology fits within your business. If you don’t understand the jargon, then ask for an explanation. A good IT Service Provider should be able to translate the buzzwords into coherent plans and strategies that benefit your business.
3. What kind of metrics will you be able to provide? You probably already use metrics to measure things in your business like sales, finance, and employee performance. So why wouldn’t you use metrics to measure your IT Services performance? Not only your overall network health and technology health but also their level of performance. Here are some things to look for:
- Team Utilization - how busy are the techs? Do they have technician availability to accommodate adding your business? This is good to know before you enter into the agreement
- Call resolution statistics – how good are the techs at resolving the issues they face?
Here are some metrics to look for once the new IT Company is in place:
- Network Health – how are my systems doing? At VPSG we provide this information on a monthly basis. Its critical to have this info to evaluate system upgrades, replacements, etc.
- Service Tickets – what kind of tickets is my business generating? Are my people spending a lot of time on the same issue? We call these chronic issues and this is often a matter of educating the user community to a better process that will resolve the problem.
4. What happens when we sign the deal? What should my expectations be? Do you have a documented onboarding process that you can share with me? When changing IT Service Providers, the first few months can be painful; there are a lot of changes that will be taking place. The right IT Service Provider understands the impact this can have on your business and will prepare for it. Our project team works with you to create a customized plan to bring your company onboard, while minimizing downtime and risk. Its also important to educate the users on how to reach the help desk when support is needed and what to expect when you open a help desk support ticket.
5. Other than technical support, how often will we be interacting? What If I have non-technical questions? Technology and IT Services can be complicated, relationships and non technical things like billing should not be. Since not everything may be covered in your Support Agreement, It’s important that you are able to understand how the IT Company will bill you and that their bills be easily understandable. Also, as your business grows and changes, it’s important for your IT Support partner to keep up with those changes. How often will they meet with you on a non technical level, just to review what’s happening in your business? At VPSG, we meet with our Fixed Fee IT customers at least once every six months so we can stay on top of changes in their business and plan for changes and improvements without surprises.
6. Can I have a tour of your facilities (offices and data center)? It’s a great idea to take the time to see your IT Partner’s spaces. This is an opportunity to meet the technical teams that will be interacting with your employees and supporting the servers and workstations that are so critical to your business. And if you’re going into the cloud, it’s even more critical to see the datacenter and understand the foundation upon which your private cloud is built.
Outsourcing your IT Services, or changing to a new IT Service Provider is an important decision for your business. It is a good idea that can help you streamline and improve efficiencies. You just need to make sure that the company you choose is knowledgeable, experienced, and capable of understanding how technology fits within your business. The old “Computer Break/Fix” model, where the IT Technician waits for something to break so they can fix it (and thereby make money) doesn’t work anymore. Your business needs the proactive approach of Managed Services. It’s critical that your IT Service Provider be your business partner and provide you with valuable insight and intelligent strategy that allows effective uses of technology to help your business grow.