With increasing reliance on new and more complex technologies, organizations are increasingly turning to outside IT support partners to help them manage their critical infrastructure and applications. Here are eight factors to consider when choosing the right IT support partner for your business.
When evaluating potential IT support partners, consider their skills and experience across your technology stack. They should be able to provide client testimonials and resumes of their team members and invite key employees to meetings before hiring them. The size of the vendor's team should also be considered. A prospective vendor must not only have qualified specialists available during business hours, but also an established bench capable of providing 24/7 support.
Certifications and Industry Experience
Certifications can be used as a quick way to assess credibility. Before receiving a certification, an external organization would typically have completed an assessment to verify that an individual or a supplier meets a minimum standard of competency. Your IT support partner should be able to demonstrate knowledge of, and experience with, all relevant industry standards and how to ensure continued compliance throughout the life of your service contract.
Service Level & Quality
Service level specifications must be specific and detailed, establishing a timeframe for vendor identification and resolution based on the complexity of the issue that arises. Ticketing systems allow you and the supplier to track and document all service requests through to completion. Be sure to inquire about quality assurance and customer satisfaction programs.
Scope of Service
The entire range of services offered by the provider should be considered. In the future, as your business needs change, having a vendor with a broad service offering can allow you to quickly access the additional services you need without the disruption that comes with assessing and transitioning to a new vendor.
The ideal provider offers an engagement model that encompasses all of your IT support needs and accommodates your operational preferences. You should not have to change the way you do business to accommodate your vendor. An ideal vendor will also provide a single point of accountability for all outsourced IT support services they are engaged to provide.
Security should always be the top priority when outsourcing. Your security plan must conform to all industry and regulatory standards and best practices applicable to your organization. Depending on the industry, supplier employees with active security clearances may be required. For added confidence, you may wish to conduct background investigations on the vendor team members who will have access to your data and infrastructure.
A good IT support provider will provide you with virtually complete visibility into your service delivery with real-time dashboards to monitor system performance and a clear team structure that identifies people, their roles, and their responsibilities. The supplier's willingness to be transparent and explain issues satisfactorily should be taken as a measure of their integrity.
If your provider offers bundled services, consider whether each bundled service meets your needs and is of reasonable value to you. Analyze which services are covered by the supplier's offer and which activities incur additional costs. There should be a mechanism to review or approve additional charges before they are incurred.