According to recent data, around 37% of US small businesses outsource their IT services, making it the most commonly outsourced business function, alongside accounting. Outsourcing IT services to a third-party provider can carry many benefits. You’ll enjoy more time to focus on running your business, have convenient access to a team of technology experts who can guide your IT towards improved outcomes, and you’ll be able to sleep easy knowing your infrastructure is being properly maintained and supported; that is, if you choose the right provider.
Here at Virtual IT Group, we know how pivotal IT can be to the success of any business. We help businesses and organizations across central Florida leverage technology to become more efficient, profitable and resilient. We strive to go the extra mile for our clients, but from our experience many IT providers fail to do the same, with many delivering mediocre IT support and management and offering little in the way of strategic value.
We’d be honored if you were to choose Virtual IT Group as your next IT support partner, but we know you’ll want to consider your options first before arriving at a decision. To help, here’s what we believe are the top 5 factors to consider when selecting an IT Support provider.
Do They Help Organisations Similar to Yours?
If your business operates in compliance-heavy sector, having an IT partner who understands your struggles can prove advantageous. If you’re a healthcare provider for example, you want an IT company with knowledge of the intricacies of HIPAA compliance. If you’re a financial institution you want an IT provider that can help you satisfy the requirements of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act and PCI DSS. Prior experience serving businesses similar to yours will give a provider greater confidence to propose constructive changes that don’t conflict with your compliance obligations, leading to a more dynamic partnership.
In addition to an understanding of your compliance pressures, a provider with in your sector will also be better prepared to support any niche software you use, and they’ll likely be more attuned to the commercial and operational challenges you face.
While industry experience needn’t necessarily be a deal breaker, an IT provider that understands your sector and how you work will likely pay dividends in the long run.
How Does Their Pricing Structure Work?
IT providers use a range of pricing regimes, ranging from easy-to-interpret subscription-style pricing to highly creative and sometimes confusing systems. Broadly speaking though, two pricing systems dominate the market: pay-as-you-go and managed services contracts.
As the name suggests, pay-as-you-go pricing sees charges incurred when support services are provided. Often this takes the form of an hourly rate, with some providers offering blocks of hours at a discounted price. An alternative to this, is “pay per incident” pricing, where a fixed fee is applied to each support request. While these options can prove cost-effective if your IT support needs are very low, we wouldn’t recommend pay-as-you go pricing if you want to feel “looked after.” Such systems usually provide little incentive for the provider to offer the best in customer service, and should a complex issue arise you could find yourself paying an exorbitant bill for support.
Managed services contracts on the other hand, typically combine a number of IT management and support functions for a pre-agreed monthly or yearly charge. Such contracts often include managed security, preventative maintenance, helpdesk support, business continuity and disaster recovery services as well as some degree of strategic guidance. Provided with greater incentive to keep clients happy, this model typically results in quicker issue resolution, a more proactive approach that minimizes downtime and a better standard of customer care.
Unless your business has VERY basic support needs, we’d always advocate going down the route of a managed services contract for support that covers all bases and added peace of mind.
Are They Willing to Adapt to The Needs of Your Business?
Because no two organizations are exactly alike, a one-size-fits-all philosophy rarely works in the world of IT. You need a provider that’s willing to accommodate the peculiarities of your business and how you operate, but how do you discern those willing to offer a custom service from those that are inflexible?
First, look for terms like “IT Strategy, ”Strategic Support” or “IT roadmap” when perusing the websites of potential providers. Such phrases are encouraging signs of providers willing to help their clients develop tailored solutions in response to business challenges. A provider that shows willingness and capacity to help you develop and optimize your IT will provide immeasurable value for your business further down the line.
Additionally, should you only require specific services and support to complement your existing team, look for a provider that offers IT co-management. This will ensure you only end up paying for the services you actually need, and signal’s a provider’s ability to work in a constructive, co-operative capacity.
Ultimately you want a provider that’s willing to work with your business in an amenable, collaborative fashion. This will help your business see greater return on investment and will likely result in a partnership that endures.
Do Their Clients Rate Their Service?
Before committing to any support contract you should undertake thorough due diligence to assess the veracity of claims made and to ensure the service on offer is likely to meet your expectations.
A key element of this process involves seeking references from previous clients and reviewing feedback from past and current customers in the form of testimonials and online reviews. Request references from clients similar to your business and enquire as to how the provider helped them develop and progress their IT. Take a look at online reviews if these are available, bearing in mind that anonymity can sometimes result in misleading or bad-faith critiques.
Do They Have a Broad Cyber Security Offering?
Cyber Crime is on the rise across the United States, and with 43% of attacks targeting SMBs no organization can afford to be complacent. You need a provider that offers a range of managed security services in conjunction with their main support offering. This should incorporate endpoint malware protection, email security measures, managed network security, data backup and other measures such as VPNs and remote access management to help secure remote devices. Numerous technical devices and controls should combine to provide multi-layered security, a strategy that constructs multiple defensive barriers against would-be attackers, thus minimizing the risk of a successful breach.
As part of the onboarding process, many IT providers offer vulnerability scans and security audits to help their clients identify weakness in their systems. This can be a great way to make immediate security posture improvements and indicates a provider that takes a proactive, vigilant approach to security.
Another thing to consider is whether they provide cyber security training. Data suggests the vast majority of cyber incidents originate from end user mistakes, so equipping your team with cyber security skills will help ensure your workforce understands the tricks and techniques the cybercriminals use.
Selecting an IT support provider is a significant strategic decision; one that could have a profound impact on the future direction of your business. By taking time to review your options you’ll be better placed to find a provider that delivers measurable value for your business.
Virtual IT Group – Quality Managed IT, Support and Strategy for Central Florida Businesses
Operating from the heart of the Tampa Bay area, Virtual IT Group offers high-quality, expertly curated IT services to businesses across Central Florida and beyond. We provide resilient IT systems that end users can rely on and deliver transformational solutions that act as catalysts for business growth.
Get in touch today to find out how we could help your business.