By Caroline Blivet
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How to Choose an IT Services Provider for Your Business

February 18, 2020
Technology is an important part of running any modern business. From small and medium-sized companies to emerging multi-nationals, access to reliable and efficient technology is critical to your success. 

Despite this growing importance, information systems and hardware infrastructure can be complex and difficult to master, which is why it's important to work with a managed IT services provider.

If you're looking for managed services to take your business to the next level, be sure to look out for the following factors:

Availability

You may not work 24 hours a day, but your computer infrastructure and network need to. In order to support your business needs, you need access to an IT services provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Your business depends on reliable and available managed services in order to ensure business continuity and data integrity at all times.

Fast response time

Availability is just the start; your IT services provider needs to respond quickly to your needs when problems arise. Small service disruptions and minor data loss issues can still cost you money and damage your reputation. Rather than forwarding you to a call center, you need a services provider that responds quickly and offers a guaranteed response time. It's also important to choose a company that offers onsite support, with a local provider often the best choice.

IT and budget planning

A good managed services provider will assist with your future technology planning. When it comes to IT, professional advice and industry expertise can save you money, make you more efficient, and help your company grow to the next level. It's important to find a forward-thinking managed services provider that listens to your needs and cares about your interests. Proactive update schedules and maintenance programs are also important in order to avoid future problems.

Data security and disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is an integral part of business continuity and data security. If your business suffers from a natural disaster, an unwanted intrusion, or other outages, you need to be prepared and act immediately. A good managed services provider will help you plan and make sure your business recovers properly from a disruptive event. Automatic and ongoing backups on a remote server are critical to ensure data safety. 

Third-party vendor partnerships

One of the significant advantages to using a managed services provider is their ability to manage technology vendors on your behalf. Professional IT services can compare vendors for you and save you time and money accessing service and support. When evaluating a provider, look into their partner network to make sure they're a good fit for your organization. This applies to cloud-based platforms and storage, along with off-site backups and telecommunications services.

Cyber security support

In today's inter-connected world, it's important to ensure your managed services provider is capable of dealing with all aspects of cyber security. A robust and agile security stance is needed to meet compliance obligations, ensure business continuity, and promote data integrity across your organization. A good IT services provider should be able to keep your IT assets safe and secure.

Security programs should be integrated with software services to keep your network secure, and measures should be implemented to prevent unauthorized devices and users from accessing your system. Your managed services provider and their entire partner network should also be secure, with strong password management and access control practices needed to ensure compliance and minimize exposure.

Employee support

If your employees are continually fighting with technology, they're much less likely to get their work done. An IT managed services provider can provide fast answers to technology questions and use remote access to resolve issues quickly. In addition, many IT services offer staff training and ongoing education programs to ensure efficient technology integration.

Ask the following questions to gain real insights

When selecting an IT services provider, it's important to be pro-active by asking questions and seeking honest reviews from previous clients. A good provider will understand your need for questions and clarification and welcome your requests for references.

Ask for service level performance reports, not just SLAs

Most managed service providers will include a Service Level Agreement (SLA) as part of their contract. This will outline things such as coverage limits and guaranteed response times for service tickets. While important, SLAs are generally easily met and written to benefit the service provider.

It's much more important to get real measures of recent performance through service level performance reports. For example, how often was the help desk closed last week? What was the average response or resolution time for a service ticket?

Request interviews with current and previous clients

A sure-fire way to assess the quality of a managed IT services provider is to request an interview with current and previous clients. A professional IT services provider will be happy to put you in touch with previous customers for a better understanding of day-to-day service expectations.

Ask about their real-world experience

Not all IT companies offer the same level of experience or service. When it comes to managing your IT infrastructure and maintaining the security of your valuable business data, you can’t trust just anyone. You should only work with an IT services provider that has demonstrated experience in your location and industry sector. Size is also important when it comes to deploying IT support, so you need someone with a proven track record of managing organizations of a similar size to yours.

Softlanding specializes in professional and managed IT services for demanding businesses. As a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner, we are involved in the direct implementation of leading Microsoft solutions. From Office 365 and Azure through to Teams and SharePoint, we can analyze your current workflow and find new solutions to help you optimize your IT investment and grow. 

Contact us now if you want to learn more.

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