Finding the Right IT Provider, What to Look For
Finding the right technology provider to support your operations these days is no easy task, especially if you’re a smaller organization with fewer resources. This means that running your own IT department isn’t always an option.
However, even if you aren’t able to staff an IT department in-house, you still need a way to address your company’s technology needs. In response to this dilemma, many organizations are turning to third-party IT providers to help provide them with support and maintenance.
Choosing the right technology partner is critical — after all, you’ll be putting your IT data and infrastructure in the hands of a third party. A good IT provider can make the difference between a successful launch of a new offering or a frustrating litany of delays and technical problems. So what should you be looking for when selecting your next IT partner? Here’s everything you need to know.
Of course, it’s in your best interest, and in the best interest of the organization to contract with an IT partner that’s been a leader in the industry, with a strong reputation and happy clients. If possible, ask for testimonials from other customers to make sure that the company has a track record of successful partnerships. Pay special attention to any customers that are similar to your own organization in terms of size, business objectives and other factors.
However, just as important as your potential IT provider’s amount of experience is the amount of experience it has that’s relevant to your needs. If you have an on-site intranet that you want to move into the cloud, for example, you should almost certainly go with a provider that has a wealth of experience in cloud computing.
Unfortunately, the frequency and severity of cyberattacks both seem to be on the rise lately. Outsourcing your IT department to an external provider is risky enough without the additional danger of a devastating data breach. The 2014 cyberattack on Home Depot, for example, which resulted in the exposure of 56 million customers’ card information, occurred after hackers entered the network using a third-party vendor’s login details.
Any IT provider that you partner with should have a comprehensive list of policies and procedures regarding its IT security practices. Verify that your partner’s security practices are in line with — or even more stringent than — your own. In addition, make sure that your IT provider uses cybersecurity best practices such as data encryption and multi-factor authentication.
Communication and Culture
Even if a potential provider looks perfect on paper, there are still plenty of possible pitfalls that can prevent a successful partnership. For one, consider whether your two cultures are compatible. What are their most important values as a company? How do they prefer to solve problems when they arise?
Having a communicative, responsive, accessible partner is key for when things don’t go according to plan. If your servers go down at three in the morning, can you be certain that things will be fixed by the time you wake up? Read the fine print of your contract to ensure that your IT provider will be able to fulfill your support and maintenance needs.
The criteria above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding the right IT provider. Other relevant facets include the IT provider’s certifications, their financial outlook and health, and the method and schedule of payments, to name only a few. Once you’ve narrowed down the most important factors that you need from your next IT provider, your search will become a much less difficult process.
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