When your business is growing, you’ll reach a point where it becomes nearly impossible to handle all your IT requirements in-house. Trying to do so can result in many problems, from lack of manpower, to an inability to cope with large scale operations, and overrun budgets. Naturally, to avoid these issues, the sensible thing to do, as many fast-growing businesses are doing, is to find an external IT services provider. It seems like an easy thing to accomplish, but what most companies overlook is that it’s important to screen your choices well before signing a deal with a third-party IT manager. Here are some important things to consider when you’re looking for an IT provider.

How effectively do they respond in a crisis?

Every IT provider will guarantee extremely fast response rates. On paper, this seems appealing. However, you need to dig a little deeper to see how true this is. Look for a provider who has a track record of good response rates – and not only for answering messages, but on responding effectively as well. You’ll want an IT service provider who achieves a fine balance between both these elements. How quickly your IT managers respond is as important as what they do once they get there.

How customizable are their services?

It’s not hard to find an IT provider who offers a variety of outsourced services. And while it may be tempting to sign a contract by reading off a roster of packages, take a while to understand how compatible these services are with what you need. Talk to a potential IT service provider to find out if they offer customization of existing packages or services to meet your specific requirements. After all, you don’t want to end up paying for services you may never use.

How secure are the services they provide?

With every detail of vital information being stored online, data security is hugely important for you and your business. And an effective IT service provider knows how important it is to incorporate security checks at every stage of an IT operation. Partnering with a third-party IT provider who has properly set up security systems and measures, including encryption and clear guidelines for all users to create secure logins, will mean that you’re less likely to fall victim to compromised security, data leaks, or threats to your business due to hacking and other IT malpractices. Discuss the kinds of safeguards that your potential IT provider has in place before hiring them.

What is their billing model, and does it work to you?

Hidden costs can be an unwelcome problem, especially if you realize that with a few probing questions, you could have foreseen and avoided the issue altogether. Ask about the billing model your IT provider adopts – whether they charge a fixed fee, or if they do their billing by the hour. Some providers charge a flat rate each month, followed by any additional fees in case of an incident. Understanding the billing model can help your organization prepare a budget well for the year.

As with most things, you need to use your judgement when choosing the right IT professional for you. Ask about any doubts or concerns you have upfront, and it’ll save you a ton of trouble down the road.

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