With the increasing reliance on newer and more complex technology, organizations are increasingly turning to outside IT support partners to help manage their critical infrastructure and applications. Here are eight factors to consider to help you choose the right IT support partner for your organization.
When evaluating potential IT support partners, you should look at their skills and experience with your technology stack. They should be able to produce client references, resumes of their team members, and have key personnel participate in meetings before you hire them. You should also consider the size of the supplier’s team. A potential supplier should not only have qualified professionals available during business hours but have a deep bench that can provide coverage 24/7/365.
Industry Certifications and Expertise
Certifications can serve as a quick way to assess credibility. Before being awarded a certification, the supplier would have completed a third-party audit to demonstrate their adherence to the standards. An IT support partner should be able to demonstrate knowledge of all standards relevant to your industry & be able to explain how to ensure ongoing compliance through the term of the service agreement.
Service Levels & Quality
Service level specifications should be specific and detailed setting timeframes for supplier acknowledgment and resolution of issues, based on the level of support required. Ticketing systems allow you and the supplier to track all service requests and document them through to completion. Be sure to inquire about any quality assurance and customer satisfaction programs.
Scope of Services
As the needs of your business change, you may choose to outsource additional support functions, or possibly management of your entire technology ecosystem. As such, you should consider the full scope of services a vendor offers. An established working relationship with a capable vendor who offers a broad range of additional services, allows you to quickly and efficiently evolve your supplier relationship should the need arise.
The ideal vendor will propose an engagement model that addresses all your IT support requirements with your businesses’ operational preferences, as opposed to you having to accommodate them. A versatile vendor will also allow you to maintain a single, point of accountability for all your outsourced IT support services.
Security should always be a paramount consideration when outsourcing. The security plan should be compliant with any regulatory and industry standards or best practices that apply to your business. Depending on your industry, you may need vendor staff to possess active security clearances. Alternatively, for your own peace of mind, you may request vendor staff undergo background investigations.
A good IT support vendor will allow you to have virtually complete visibility into their service delivery with real-time dashboards for monitoring your system performance, and a clear team structure identifying individuals, their roles, and their responsibilities. The vendor's willingness to create transparency, and explain issues to your satisfaction should be considered a measure of their integrity.
If a vendor is offering bundled services, consider whether the individual services in the package align with your needs and represent good value for you. Scrutinize the services that are covered by the vendor proposal and which activities will incur additional costs. There should be a mechanism for you to control or approve incremental charges.
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