IT is one of the most commonly outsourced business services in the USA today. With benefits ranging from improved cyber security and business productivity to lower monthly IT expenditure, IT outsourcing carries a range of advantages compared with managing technology in-house.
However, these benefits can be harder to come by if you don’t choose a provider who’s a good fit for your business. In what can be a crowded marketplace, the process of selecting an IT provider can be a challenging one. You want someone who will rigorously maintain and support your infrastructure on a day-to-day basis, but you also want them to offer strategic guidance and help you deploy technology in a way that maximises your business’s competitive advantage. Selecting an IT provider is a decision that could have profound long-term consequences for your business, so it’s important to get it right first time.
Here at Grapevine, we’ve been providing class-leading IT support and technology services to SME’s across the San Joaquin valley area for over a decade. From humble beginnings, Grapevine has grown to over 50 employees, providing an unparalleled breadth of expertise for even the toughest projects. We pride ourselves on delivering stable, secure and cost-effective business technology that our clients can rely on.
While we’d love you to choose Grapevine as your next IT support provider, we know that you’ll want to weigh up your options first before making a decision. So to help, here’s a list of what we believe are the top 6 factors to consider when choosing an IT support provider.
How does their pricing work?
It’s important to consider whether a provider’s pricing structure fits your budget and offers great value for money. IT support providers typically offer their services in 2 main ways: flat fee agreements and pay-as-you-go billing. Often a “hybrid” arrangement will be in place, whereby core support service are offered on a fixed flat fee basis with project-based services charged separately.
For predictable billing and added peace of mind, we’d recommend pricing that incorporates unlimited support and network monitoring and maintenance on a fixed fee basis. That way you’ll be able to focus on running your business without worrying about a disruptive IT outage affecting your productivity or a network glitch running up a hefty support bill.
Do they have the expertise your tech demands?
One of the most critical aspects of choosing an IT provider is assessing whether they have the skills, expertise and experience necessary to effectively support your environment. For example, if some of your team use Macs in addition to PCs, you’ll need a provider capable of supporting Apple devices. If you use Microsoft 365, or are thinking about adopting it, you’ll want to choose a Microsoft Partner so your business will get the most out of this empowering product line. And if you’ve got a network expansion in the pipeline it might be beneficial to choose a provider with a broad range of networking expertise backed by the relevant accreditations and proven project experience.
In general, accreditations, certificates and official vendor partnerships are often good indicators of a multi-disciplined provider that’s committed to high standards of technical proficiency and ongoing staff training. You might also want to consider whether a provider has experience working with businesses in your sector, particularly if you operate in a highly regulated field such as healthcare or financial services. Prior experience will mean they’ll be better prepared to adapt solutions to the compliance pressures you face.
Are they security conscious?
Cyber crime is on an upward trajectory both worldwide and in the United States. Around half of all cyber-attacks target small businesses, and of those that suffer a cyber breach, around 60% go out of business within 6 months.
It’s therefore vital to choose a provider that can help you assemble a range of cyber defence measure that cover all bases. Look for a provider that offers comprehensive anti-malware measures, secure email gateway tools to keep scammers out of your corporate email, advanced firewall protections to safeguard against web-based threats, and prioritises proactive maintenance in order to seal up system vulnerabilities.
Will they help you deploy technology strategically?
In our digitised world, technology is no longer simply a means to an end: it can be a springboard for business success. Deployed in a measured, strategic way, technology can help your business overcome operational challenges, deliver a better product to your customers, and become more productive and efficient.
When assessing each provider, look at how they present the various products and services they offer? Do they frame their offering in the context of business challenges, or is everything a bewildering array of technical specs and jargon? If a provider takes the “product first, business second” approach, you’ll likely end up with solutions that don’t address your business challenges, fail to help you innovate and don’t offer a compelling cost/benefit ratio.
Providers that understand the commercial and operational value of technology often help their clients develop future technology strategies as a part of their service. We’d recommend choosing a provider that offers strategic guidance like this to ensure your technology evolves in parallel with your business and continues to meet modern customer expectations.
Do they offer responsive, 24/7 support?
While the job of a good IT provider is to minimise disruption, if something does go wrong you want the issue remedied with the utmost urgency, with support that’s available whenever you happen to need it.
Look for providers that offer 24/7 helpdesk support: there’s nothing more frustrating than a business-critical fault developing and having to wait hours for a helpdesk to open.
To ensure you experience a reliably high standard of ongoing support, look for a provider that’s willing to offer response time and service level guarantees backed by a comprehensive service level agreement (SLA). This agreement will act as a commitment to provide a certain standard of service and could even give you recourse to compensation if basic targets are not being met.
Do they have a good reputation?
Once you’ve shortlisted a few IT support providers you might want to examine their reputation to check that previous and current clients are enjoying the service they purport to offer.
Review client testimonials and seek out references from businesses similar to yours both in scale and sector of operation if possible. Have a look at online reviews to get a general overview of service quality, but don’t rely solely on these as they can be written anonymously.
We’re Grapevine – Tailored technology and peerless IT support for Bakersfield businesses
Since 2009, we’ve helped many businesses in Bakersfield and across the San Joaquin valley take advantage of technology to become more profitable, competitive and efficient. From proactive IT support and cutting edge cyber security, to innovative cloud solutions and futureproof telephony: we offer a full suite of IT services designed to help SMEs thrive in our competitive digital age. Get in touch today to find out how our team can help your business.