The hunt for a great IT team can be a challenging process. Here’s a list of the five most important traits you should look for in a prospective IT provider…
Obviously, technical mastery is one of the biggest requirements you’ll be searching for when you interview a prospective IT provider. Kind of a given, right? You’ll want to think carefully about the type of expertise you’re pursuing, though. Questions might include: Does the prospective IT team have proven success in an environment similar to yours? and Even if they have impressive credentials, can they describe actual technical scenarios they’ve successfully resolved?
Just as importantly, you’ll want to know whether this IT team is familiar with your technology and equipment. Or, are they going to try to strong-arm you into their favorite brand or device? An experienced IT provider should be able to demonstrate their acumen by explaining exactly what they can or can’t do for you, not angling to up-sell you on unnecessary products or services.
Can you hear me now? Anyone, anyone? We’ve all found ourselves in the frustrating position of being unable to work because of a critical problem or equipment failure. Frankly, it can put your life on hold. So, at the very least you should expect your IT provider to be easily accessible, with at least two phone numbers and/or ways to submit support requests. Most IT providers will also provide you with an SLA (Service Level Agreement) in your contract, documenting expected response times and escalation procedures for support requests.
While the world is full of technical wizards, not all of them know how to speak human. When interviewing a prospective IT provider, you’ll want be on the lookout for good communication skills, the ability to listen, and a sensitivity to the unique needs of your business. Also, look for signs of whether they’re interested in your unique goals and objectives, or have only their own best interests in mind.
The most effective partnerships between businesses and IT providers come about when both parties understand the important role IT can play in business success. The convenience and productivity accorded by software such as CRM systems, SAAS-based project management, online storage and file sharing, customized content management systems, and more can mark the difference between you and your competition.
Try telling your IT team about your business goals, or your greatest information-related frustrations, and then wait to see if they can propose strategic IT solutions that will help you improve your reach. To be sure they aren’t just applying the same cookie-cutter approach to every client, ask them how their solutions would change, given different assumptions or scenarios.
And this brings us to one of the most important areas in which your IT provider should shine. If they’ve effectively demonstrated their technical prowess, then they should know how to implement, configure, and troubleshoot your technology or, as some would say, just make it work! It also goes without saying they should apply the highest standards of security and privacy protection when overseeing your IT operations.
A great IT provider, however, should be more than just a handy mechanic. They should have a deeper vision of where IT is headed, and what kind of trends may impact or aid your business along the way. If you’re ready to move your IT beyond the break-fix cycle, then request insight and strategy, and see if your prospective IT provider is up to the task.
Give us a call if you’re interested in discussing some of your IT challenges. We have technical experts who are ready to help you start achieving your business goals…
Flickr Photo Credit: jcorrius