The choice of a technology support partner has become one of the most important for companies, small or large. Because of the intrinsic nature of IT through an organization, the effects of a bad decision can be felt from top to bottom. So what should you be on the lookout for? Here is a list of things you are almost certain to hear and how to see through them:

1) It's cheaper to outsource your IT support to us than stay in-house

This may be true, except that most companies charge by the hour, so there is no cap on how much your support budget may run to. If you really want to be sure it is cheaper than having your own in-house team, choose an IT support vendor that offers a fixed cost.

2) We do not believe in hidden costs

All well and good, except that often sellers hide "hidden" costs out in the open. Mark-ups, transport costs, delivery fees may all be opened discussed, but if you are not sure when or how often these may crop up, they are just as bad as hidden costs. Make sure your vendor can tell you what these unexpected (not hidden) costs might be and when they are charged.

3) Our solution fits your requirements

Customization is a promise that every vendor will make. The only way to make sure that you actually get a customized service is to check what kind of documentation a vendor will provide. To offer a solution tailor to you, a vendor must have first documented your systems structure (existing and proposed), so look for that.

4) You can communicate with us at any time

Communication is key for any IT support relationship. Problems must be explained quickly and clearly so they can be resolved efficiently. Look for multiple communication channels and availability time to test how beneficial this promise will really be. Also, the best IT support providers will outline their communication processes, so that all your staff know who to contact in any given situation.

5) We offer emergency support

There is Emergency Support and there is emergency support. What you need is immediate support that includes an on-site visit if required. Without this, emergency support is just plain old run-of-the-mill support, which does not really do much good when your staff are in a panic over a lost connection or a faulty server.

6) Minimal downtime guaranteed

The word "minimal" hides a multitude of sins. The only thing you can do is get a specific minimum time limit. Also look for vendors that have processes for a worst case scenario, which includes setting you up with a new machine that is pre-installed with the software you need and access to your work files in the quickest time possible.

7) Our service follows you wherever you go

Many vendors offer remote service support, which can therefore follow you no matter what city you may visit, but this is only limited to remote support. Check to see what kind of on-site support a vendor can offer when you go traveling. The best will have a network of support engineers in multiple cities, meaning they can really support you in an emergency when you are traveling.

8) We offer the latest in disaster recovery

Scratch beneath the surface of whatever disaster recovery process is on offer. It usually comes down to frequency of back-ups, which in this time of fast connections, should be done remotely and automatically. Further ensure that the back-ups are checked regularly, or you may find a vendor that has not realized that an automated back-up process no longer works properly when you need it.

9) Our package includes many additional services that you do not even know that you need

This basically comes down to anti-virus and spam protection, but you must check what is included. Anti-virus must be regularly updated and reliably and spam software should be adaptable to your level of risk. Make sure that management of this is included, so that you do not need to worry about it. Remember, your tech support is supposed to make your life easier, not introduce more complexity.

10) We grow as you grow

Of course, all IT support vendors will hope to continue a long relationship with their customers, but the fact is, as a company grows, their computing and network requirements change veryly. Ensure that your vendor has processes in place that go beyond your existing requirements, with specific knowledge of how to handle larger companies. This means multiple offices, sometimes across multiple countries and the ability to scale all their services.

This list is designed to help you dig a little deer into the most common services that are offered by tech support vendors. It will allow you to separate the really good vendors from those who just promise a standard list of computing services.

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