Most managed IT services will monitor the IT infrastructure, including internal and external websites, portals, and other services, is vital to almost every business. Cyber-security and optimization, likewise, is also a vital component of most small and medium-sized businesses. Even if you’re not providing customers with a portal to access information or asking them to enter financial data, you still want to have IT infrastructure that functions well and is secure from outside attacks. If your network goes down, you lose productivity, and if data is stolen, your reputation will take a hit.
That’s why having an experienced outsourcing partner who can handle your managed IT services is so important to smaller businesses. These partners provide everything you need for IT without the drain on your budget that hiring your own in-house personnel would cause. However, to really get the most out of outsourcing your IT services, you have to find the right partner. While this may start with the budget, that shouldn’t be the deciding factor. In the age of virtual services, location doesn’t necessarily have to play a part in selecting an outsourcing partner, either. Instead, look at these five criteria when selecting a managed IT services company.
Do They Have Experience with Growing Businesses?
Are you ready to grow your business? Maybe you expect to rapidly expand within the next couple of years, or perhaps you’re looking more long-term. Either way, you’re likely to grow your business at some point, and when that happens, you’ll need to expand your IT infrastructure accordingly. You may need to be able to take on more customers, so you need infrastructure that can function flawlessly with hundreds or thousands of simultaneous users. Perhaps you plan on hiring more workers and need to boost your back-end systems.
Regardless of what your needs will be, you need a managed IT services partner that can create a scalable system that can easily be expanded when necessary. You want a partner who can fully evaluate what you have and determine how it should be changed to be more flexible. If your infrastructure can’t be scaled up when the time comes, it’s going to be a problem.
Working with a managed IT services provider now can help you put these flexible systems in place so you can scale when the time is right. If the provider hasn’t worked with SMBs that have gone through growth phases, they may not be familiar with implementing flexible, scalable systems. That may be a red flag if you know your business will expand.
Will they Provide Custom Solutions?
There are certainly best practices and policies in the IT infrastructure world, and you do want to implement those solutions. However, companies that use a standard, cookie-cutter IT infrastructure often find that things aren’t a perfect fit. That’s why you need a services provider who will craft custom solutions that perfectly fit your needs. No business has completely identical needs or problems, even if they’re in the same industry. There are times when a common solution works, but there are other times when you need services tailored specifically to your industry, your services, your location, or your customer base.
If you don’t have an IT services provider who can analyze your needs and create a custom solution for you, you may find that, over time, your infrastructure doesn’t quite work like it should. Signs that this is the case include slow, suboptimal systems and the need to create workarounds. At worst, one of these common solutions will cause problems throughout your system, leaving you with security vulnerabilities, software and hardware incompatibility, and more. The right managed IT services provider will be able to implement solutions that work for your infrastructure and meet all of your needs without creating new problems.
A good provider will be willing to share instances of unique problems they solved for their clients. They should also be willing to discuss hypotheticals and what they might do to ensure your infrastructure is functioning correctly.
Do They Provide Complete Managed IT Services?
When you’re looking for a managed IT services provider, you want someone who is going to handle all of your IT needs. This includes maintaining your servers, improving the performance of your cloud storage, ensuring your data is safe and secure, and monitoring your overall network. However, dealing with your software and hardware needs isn’t all a managed IT provider can do. They should also assist you with IT planning and strategy, risk management, infrastructure assessment, and more. You want a partner who won’t just upgrade your server memory or install new applications—you need someone who will give you their honest, informed opinion and help you make technology decisions.
If you partner with an IT services provider who doesn’t do everything, you have two choices, neither of which is particularly great. One is to have your in-house IT team take on whatever the provider doesn’t offer. This may mean hiring someone with a particular skill set, which defeats the purpose of outsourcing your IT. Your second option is to find another provider who offers services the first one doesn’t. Now you have two companies handing your IT, and you’re paying both.
With either solution, it means having two different teams working on your IT infrastructure. This can lead to major issues if one of those teams implements software or hardware that conflicts with something the other team is doing. It can create security vulnerabilities, too, due to a lack of communication between your providers.
Finding a managed IT services provider who can do everything you need is not only more secure, it’s more affordable. Look for a partner that brings everything to the table and can serve as a one-stop-shop for all of your managed IT needs.
How Responsive Are They?
If you send a message to your IT services provider, how quickly did they get back to you? If it was several days or longer, you need to ask yourself if that would be acceptable during an emergency. While it’s true some problems or questions do require a little time to consider and find solutions or answers to, your provider should still return your email or phone call to let you know they’re working on it.
In IT management and security, being able to quickly get in contact with your services provider to address issues is vital, especially in the case of an emergency. If you find out you were hacked, you need the provider to quickly jump into action to deal with the breach and shore up your security. If your online eCommerce system goes down, they need to find out why and what needs to be done to get it back. Otherwise, you’re losing money for every minute a customer can’t place an order.
You want to partner with someone who responds to your calls and messages quickly, but you also want to see what kind of follow-up time they have. For example, a company might acknowledge your message within a few hours but then take a week to address the concerns you brought up. It’s important your managed IT provider is more than just available to talk about problems—they need to have a good turn-around time on solutions as well. Ask about their standard turn-around time and how they handle clients who have emergencies.
What Experience Do They Have?
Finally, can your potential managed IT service provider design and implement the solutions you need? Do they have the experience and the skills necessary to identify the issues your infrastructure has, design solutions to address those issues, and successfully implement said solutions? If they can’t cater to your unique needs, they’re not the partner for you.
One of the reasons why outsourcing your IT services is so beneficial is that it gives you access to a team of professionals with advanced skills. Managed IT providers should have experts in many different areas, something you could never have access to if you had to hire them all yourself. If you’re working with a provider that doesn’t seem to have the experienced personnel you need, it may be time to consider making a change. Ask them about their team makeup before you hire an IT provider. They should be willing to share information on each of their employees, including their education, certifications, and skills.
Wooden Spoon IT Can Provide All the Managed IT Services You Need
As you can see, finding the right managed IT services provider is more than finding the right fit for your budget. It means finding someone who brings everything to the table that you need. Wooden Spoon IT is that partner. We have years of experience in the industry. We will assist you with everything from planning and strategizing to implementing and scaling your infrastructure to monitoring its performance and preparing risk management plans.
If you’re ready to outsource your IT services, you’ve come to the right place. To learn more about how we can help you, contact Wooden Spoon Managed IT Services today at 707-523-2222.