How To Choose The Right IT Support Provider
IT Support & Managed Services
There is no such thing as the perfect IT Support Provider. There isn’t even a ‘best’ IT Support Provider. In the same way as there is no ‘best’ accountant, solicitor, website designer, Marketing Agency or any other services base business. But we’d like to help you choose the ‘right’ IT Support Provider For You – even if that isn’t us.
Decide what you want
This might not be easy. When it comes to anything new you often don’t know what you don’t know. But there may be somethings that are important to you when it comes to looking for any new supplier. Get these down on a checklist. It could be that you’d like your provider to be a local, small business. There are large, multi-city providers operating in the East Midlands area. You might prefer one of them. Think about the things that are personally important to you. At this stage technical qualifications, awards and standards (though we work hard for them) don’t matter that much.
Beyond your personally preferences – we’re going to be honest here. Most IT Support Providers provide roughly the same service.
There are two main ways it is structured:
Break/Fix – You have an agreement with the provider and a phone number and email address. If something goes wrong with your IT you call or email and the provider comes and fixes it. They then invoice you.
Managed Services – You pay a monthly fee and your IT company looks after your IT in it’s entirety. The still provide the ‘fix stuff that goes wrong’ service but it’s all included in the monthly price. They also prevent problems, provide security, consultant with you on what you need and when, purchase hardware for you, and work in partnership with you.
A useful article that explains the differences between Break/Fix and Managed Services is What Is IT Support
We’re going to assume you know you want Managed Services rather than a Break/Fix model for the purpose of this article. (hint: you do!)
Do your research
Research is the first building block in how to choose the right IT Support provider for you.
Get online and look at a number of providers. Don’t just go to the websites of the people who pop up first on Google, or are spending the most on Google Ad’s.
We’re not saying this because we’re not prominent in the search engines. We will pop up in the first few results on Google, and in Google Ads. But we’d encourage you to check out a good 10-15 providers websites. You might even venture into the place nobody goes. Page 2 of Google!!
Locality doesn’t matter much either. You may want someone fairly local but honestly the small provider who’s 10 minutes away won’t be able to get an engineer to you in 10 minutes! Nobody in our industry has staff sitting, waiting for your call. A bigger provider 2 hours away might well be able to get to you much quicker than the local guy with no staff.
When you are going through websites we’d recommend the one’s who give you lots of information and provide answers to your questions. Look for transparency. Many providers now include at least an indication of pricing. This helps you understand if your budget if realistic. But there is a broad range when it comes to pricing which we explain in this article.
Look for the language they use. If you’re a techy person you’ll be more comfortable with technical language. If you’re not you want a bit more plain English. The website is a shop window. Consider how often it’s being updated. Is content added regularly? Is it useful, or just salesy stuff? Do they come across as knowledgeable? And are they ‘human’? We all use stock photo’s at times but do they talk about 15 staff and only have pictures of 5? It’s a sign they may be exaggerating to impress you!
Meet With More Than One Provider
Your online research should give you a shortlist of 3 or 4 providers that you get a good feeling about. They sound like a good fit. Now is the time to meet with them. This is the next step to choose the right IT Support provider.
Don’t just meet with one IT Support company. Most people we speak to are speaking to multiple companies. This is good. You need to get a feel for what’s available
Try and meet with more than one person from the business. Ask to meet with engineers, directors or anyone else you’d really like to get a feel for. Better still, once it’s allowed and providers have staff back in offices, go to the provider. You’ll get a good feel for the company and its level of professionalism by visiting their premises.
This is a whole other article – How Much Does IT Support Cost
In a nutshell, make sure you are comparing like for like. Prices fluctuate wildly and you need to ensure everyone is offering the same service.
Don’t rush your decision
The IT Support Sales cycle is generally a long one. The providers accept that. Sometimes an MSP will use a discount or special offer to try and get a deal over the line but most of the time we’re willing to wait. Why? Because this is a long term relationship. It’s very, very rare for a client to be with us for less than 3 years, it’s generally longer than that and some have been with us since we started 12 years ago. You need to be comfortable with the decision, so providers shouldn’t rush you.
Flexibility is the key. Some providers tie you into 3, or even 5 year contracts. Others offer 1 or 3 month rolling contracts. We’ve all been stuck in lengthy contracts we’ve wanted to get out of so look for flexibility. If there is an insistence on a 3 year contract, then make sure there is a break clause after 3 months, or 6 at the most.
On the flip side we have clients who have specifically asked for longer contracts as they provide continuity and security. But we’ve inserted those break clauses. It might not just be the customer that wants to get out!
You Choose the Right IT Support Provider on ‘Feeling’
You’ve done good due diligence. You’ve done your research and you’ve met the providers you liked the look of. The contract is right for your business and you’ve taken you’re time over the decision. You’ve done everything you can to make the right choice.
We hope we presented well. We got across everything we can do for your business. And we’ve made it understandable and not full of jargon. What’s the differentiating factor?
It’s going to come down to your instincts as a business owner or manager. Once you’ve gone through this process you’ll know who’s right for you. And if you get it wrong? Well that’s not a disaster either as we explain in What Happens If We Don’t Get Along……..