Are you a small business owner looking for a reliable and capable IT support provider that you can trust? Here is a list of questions you should ask them.
If you run a small business, you are accustomed to wearing a lot of hats. Small business owners and managers learn to do many jobs within their company. However, there are some jobs that are outside of your skill-set. That’s when you look to hire an outside contractor who you can trust. Small businesses have all the same types of IT issues that large companies do, but not always the same budget. Finding the right IT support vendor is an important decision, since they will be responsible for at least some of your IT security and maintenance. To help you determine which IT support provider is the best fit for your small business, here is a list of questions to discuss when interviewing them.
The company culture tells you a lot about priorities, values and staff at the IT support provider you are interviewing. You need to feel comfortable working with them. Therefore, getting to know the company culture can help you learn more about who they hire and how they operate. You can also spend time interviewing the representative who will be your main contact to decide if you’ll like partnering with them. Levels of training and security certifications must match your equipment and needs.
Visiting the office of your potential partner is helpful in assessing their professionalism, responsiveness and legitimacy. With security a high priority, it’s crucial that your provider can meet your expectations. You can get a feel for their experience, expertise and the behavior of their staff. Does it seem like a professional IT support office? Are they taking the time to get to know your small business or treating you to a one-fits-all proposal?
Having references is helpful only when you can compare your business to the referrers. The best references for you to see are from other companies that are about the same size as yours is and in a similar industry. Talk to people about any security issues they’ve had and how they were resolved. Be specific when asking about best practices, and how they help small businesses.
IT support providers train in specific systems and processes. They should have a list of certifications they have earned as well as an ongoing training plan to keep staff current with changes in the industry. Computer security issues are constantly in flux, and programs require frequent updates to block new ransomware, cryptomining and other malware. Find out whether they offer an inclusive price or flat rate for each service.
Knowing what a vendor won’t or can’t do is just as important as what they will do. If your needs aren’t in the skill-set for this vendor, then you haven’t found the right fit.
Disaster planning is crucial when it comes to business, and doubly so when discussing computer records and security. The disaster can be a natural one, a hurricane for example, or a criminal one such as a theft. What is their plan if a natural disaster affects your business? And what if it hits their business? How quickly would you be able to recover your records and your hardware? And what is the protocol in case of theft or cybercrime.
Your small business is required to comply with industry standards and government regulations. It’s important for your vendors to be aware of the regulations and be a partner with your business. Does the IT support provider offer service-level agreements as to their compliance rules and regulations to which you must comply, and international standards such as GDPR or PCI? They should have a list of standards for which they are qualified to comply.
Technology has made it possible for routine IT tasks to become automated, making it quicker and easier for monitoring networks and security. In fact, automation means that tasks don’t get missed and issues are evident much earlier. Most of the IT support and maintenance can be automated once established. That allows for more time to update security protocols and inform you of new security challenges.
This is the crux of the matter when it comes to hiring an IT support company. They need to fit seamlessly into your business and grow with you. Look for information on how they fit into other clients’ companies and how well they work with the companies’ staff. Discuss with them how they will improve your efficiency and secure your files. Make clear which IT support needs are your highest priority. Then see if you feel satisfied with their solutions for your small business.