It has now become commonplace for businesses and nonprofits to outsource their IT needs to a trusted technology partner, often referred to as a managed services provider. Outsourcing IT can be a powerful way to boost growth and profitability, as it allows IT experts to efficiently handle your IT in a cost-effective manner, while you focus on doing what you do best. This only works, though, when the managed services provider is equipped to meet your business needs and aligned to work well with your staff.
Having worked in this space serving businesses throughout the Nashville area since 2002, we’ve had the chance to hear from countless businesses about what they want from a technology partner and what they have experienced from managed services providers they’ve worked with in the past. From these conversations, we’ve determined that there are 7 qualities businesses should look for in an IT partner.
1. Are they capable?
While you’d think that anyone advertising themselves as a managed IT services provider is technically capable, it’s worth your while to make sure the company employs engineers or technicians with experience and expertise in the field. While technical certifications may help show expertise to some degree, the best measure for capability is their accomplishments. Talk to client references to get a true picture of their competence.
2. Are they dependable?
Do they respond to support calls in a reasonable time frame? When they make appointments, do they keep them? Again, outsourcing IT can be incredibly efficient, but only if you know you can depend on the managed services provider taking care of your systems.
3. Do they deliver?
When responding to an issue, do they follow through until the issue is resolved? When they propose a project to address a business need, does that project actually fill the business need? Again, talking to client references will give you a good handle on how well they follow through.
4. Do they listen?
It’s imperative that a managed services firm listen to you describe your vision, your business goals, and your challenges before proposing technology solutions. A company entrusted with your technology should be able to articulate back to you exactly what you want and need out of your technology, and should tailor their approach to meet your specific needs.
5. Do they communicate well?
A good technology partner should be able to translate technical jargon into plain English so that you can make informed business decisions with respect to technology. They should also cordially and transparently communicate with all stakeholders in their work, including your employees, to make sure issues are addressed efficiently and that everyone who needs to be is in the know.
6. Are they flexible?
Any managed services provider you talk with will likely have several options for service plans or agreements designed to satisfy the needs of different kinds of clients. It’s likely that one of these plans will fit your needs. But if they don’t, it’s important to partner with a provider who is willing to be flexible on the terms of their agreements and service plans and tailor their service model to meet your needs in a way that is mutually beneficial.
7. Will they work well with your team?
Unfortunately, IT professionals have a bad rap as lacking in people skills. This is not acceptable. Your team deserves to work with engineers and technicians who are adept at interpersonal communication and empathy—who are as good at working with others as they are at solving technical problems.
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