By Brett Helgeson
Entrusting the control of your IT systems to another party is not something business owners’ take lightly, nor should they. Those systems and the data on them can make or break your business. Daily operations depend on the quality management and dependability of IT systems and they have a direct impact on team member productivity and the revenue generating capabilities of your company.
We have all heard stories of IT management practices that have either failed or not been aligned with the strategic objectives of the company being served. Some of those stories resulted in IT partners handcuffing the progressive development or growth within organizations. The worst situations may have turned into horror stories that seem unthinkable when you consider that the organization has engaged their IT service provider in good faith that they have high IT acumen, are responsible, dependable and always looking out for the best interests and long-term success of your company. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and it is essential that mistakes during the engagement process not be made. In fact, not making those mistakes is critical to your company and the long-term success of the partnership with the IT service provider. So how can you avoid making the wrong choice?
Here are some recommended steps to help ensure that the service provider you are considering will make a trustworthy and high quality IT partner:
- Use Your Network – Lean on other business leaders that you know and trust to provide you with IT firms that they have used, or know of, and recommend. Most people take referrals very seriously as it is a reflection on them. Make sure that any IT service provider you are considering comes highly recommended, through multiple sources preferably, and vet them. Check references, talk to existing customers and maybe even past customers if the provider is willing to share names of those customers they are no longer in partnership with.
- Meet the Leaders of the Company – Making sure you are comfortable with the leaders of the IT firm you are considering and that they share your business philosophies and ethical standards, is essential. You will be giving them control of and access to the most critical and sensitive information that your company holds dear and depends on. Are they just looking to make the sale or are they genuinely interested in solving your pain points and helping you realize your short-term goals and long-term strategic technology initiatives? Are they willing to admit whether or not their strengths align with resolving the IT challenges you currently have and accomplishing the goals you desire? Do you like them? This is the start of what should be a great business relationship and trusted partnership.
- Criminal Background Checks – Taking into consideration that the IT provider’s technical staff has access to all of your sensitive data, and potentially that of your customers, ask if they require criminal background checks on their staff. Ask for verification if you desire. Any good quality IT firm should perform this diligent step as a requirement prior to hiring any technical staff that they themselves employ.
- Customer Retention Rates – As with any good business, IT providers should retain their customers, and for a long time. Transitioning from one IT provider to another is not a fun process and most businesses will avoid that as long as they are being served well and getting good value for their investment in the IT partner. Any IT provider that churns through customers should be avoided at all costs as there is something intrinsically wrong with the way they operate their business and serve their customers.
- How Deep is Their Bench – There are a multitude of good IT firms that are small shops. Many of those firms may have a highly talented IT professional or two. Make sure that you are either comfortable with the size of your IT partners technical staff or that their staff is commensurate with the size of your organization. An IT partner that has a high quality and deep technical staff affords you a wealth of technical knowledge in different areas, all working on your behalf.
Even the most thorough interview, proposal and vetting process can sometimes result in a partnership that ends up failing; however, the odds of that happening are substantially reduced by taking the aforementioned steps. Finding the right IT partner should result in a long-term trusted partnership that delivers the successful realization of your IT initiatives.
Brett Helgeson is the president of Adopt Technologies, which provides turnkey cloud based IT solutions for organizations inclusive of consultation and migration services, to transition companies from on premise IT infrastructure to cloud platforms. For more information please visit, adopttechnologies.com or follow us on Twitter @.