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With technology playing a critical role in most businesses, the demand for small business IT support has never been so high.
But choosing an IT support provider is tougher than it looks. Finding an IT provider that aligns with your organisation’s specific requirements can take time and it’s important to consider several key factors before you make a decision
In this blog, we look at the key factors you should consider when evaluating outsourced IT providers, including:
Arguably, one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an IT support provider is responsiveness and availability. There’s nothing more frustrating than long waiting times and a slow response when you experience an IT problem.
In an ideal world, your IT provider would fix things immediately, but we all know that’s just not possible – even for in-house teams.
To avoid bitter disappointment, it’s important to check out your potential IT support provider’s average response and resolution times.
But be careful! Some MSPs only report their average response times for P1 tickets (the easiest of the bunch) to make themselves look rapid.
Another important factor to consider when evaluating different IT providers is experience.
Business IT support providers can demonstrate their experience in a variety of ways. This includes accreditations, awards, case studies and of course, number of years in business.
To help you better evaluate suppliers, we’ve put together a list of some of the best accreditations to have:
If a potential IT provider doesn’t publicly display case studies, ask them about their customer base.
This is a good way to find out if they provide support to other organisations like yours. Perhaps with a similar number of IT users or unique sector-related challenges.
As the age-old saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’ and that’s no different when it comes to IT and technology.
Ideally, you want your IT provider to spot problems before they arise and avoid costly business downtime. Not scurry to fix a problem that should have been avoided in the first place.
When approaching a potential IT provider, check if their IT support contract covers things such as; system and network monitoring, ongoing system maintenance, proactive service notifications and software patch management.
IT companies can talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? When you evaluate potential IT providers, feedback and customer reviews are extremely important.
Nearly all providers gauge their average customer satisfaction score.
A reputable IT support company won’t be afraid to share their scores – so make sure to check out their website and social media channels for monthly updates.
It’s not uncommon for IT support providers to lock customers into long-term contracts, often starting at a minimum of 12 months. In fact, we once saw a contract that had a minimum term of 4 years!
Although contracts are still common, an increasing number of IT providers supply services on short-term contracts or even rolling terms.
If a provider only supplies support services on long-term contracts, be a little wary of service standards and response times and make sure to read the small print before signing up!
Businesses change over time, as do their IT needs. It’s important to choose an IT provider that can adapt to meet your requirements and future goals, especially if you plan to scale.
Does your provider have enough staff to cope with an increased demand for support? Do they provide additional services you might eventually need?
This goes without saying but your outsourced IT provider should have a solid foundation for cybersecurity.
Check their website, blog and social media to see if they regularly talk about cybersecurity and also if they have Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus certifications.
IT support pricing can vary massively between suppliers and for different reasons. Some IT providers charge an ‘all you can eat’ fee, which could include services you don’t and wouldn’t ever need.
Whereas other IT providers charge a more competitive base rate for support, with additional add-ons, so you only pay for the support and services you require.
In addition to core pricing, many managed service providers have an additional charge rate for project work and ‘out-of-hours’ support.
When evaluating supplier pricing, look for a provider with a clear pricing structure (bear in mind it might not be publicly visible) and the most value.
Make sure to review all pricing, and what you get in your contract and ensure it matches your expectations.
Related: How much does IT support cost?
To help you compare potential new IT providers, we have put together a free downloadable scorecard. This scorecard includes everything we’ve covered in this blog, with space to make notes and view 3 competitors side by side.