Interviewing potential suppliers is a critical part of selecting the right IT support provider for your business. There are key questions you should ask. Pedro Martins, Technical Director at totality services, talks us through the top 10 questions that should be asked.
1. Can you provide references?
This is the most important question to ask. When you eventually select an IT support provider you’re handing them the keys to all your systems and data – you need to be able to trust them. It’s fair to request around 5 references.
totality services always provide references, simply because we feel it’s important that our prospective clients know that we provide a great service, but also understand how we work. Reading reviews online are also useful when deciding who to go with, you can read our reviews on Trustpilot – click here
2. How big is your company?
Smaller IT support providers can offer a personal service and can get to understand the workings of your company IT system intimately. Your business is also likely to be more valuable to them and so they should give your company a higher priority. However, a large corporate support company might be offer a wider spread of expertise (if that is a requirement). You should weigh up the pros and cons.
One to avoid is one-man bands. Regardless of the size of your business, imagine a worst-case scenario of your systems going down and your IT man is on holiday or sick – not good!
totality services is on the smaller end of the scale, we have 9 permanent members of staff who help over 50 London businesses, whose head count range between 2 – 80 members of staff.
3. Are you London based?
If your business is based in London, make sure you use a provider that’s based in London! It’s common sense, but you’d be surprised how many of our clients have used providers outside the M25 in the past.
We’re Putney based, but we cover the entire London area.
4. Do you offer proactive maintenance services?
Many IT support companies simply fix issues as they occur, on a reactive basis. They don’t proactively patch and upgrade key hardware items, such as routers and servers – which can be done remotely. The proactive approach makes a huge difference, as your infrastructure and data will always be secure and you’ll also experience much less downtime, which translates in increased productivity for your company.
With totality services, proactive maintenance is included as standard on all contracts. Every month we patch our clients hardware and we advise them what work was executed.
5. Do you have guaranteed response times for issues?
You should expect your support company to offer a guaranteed response time for any IT issue. This may vary depending on what level of support you’re willing to pay for.
Be wary of companies guaranteeing to resolve problems within a certain timeframe, sometimes it can take a lot longer than expected to get to the root of problems.
6. Will we get a dedicated account manager?
It’s good to build a long-term relationship with your support company – you should see them as a department within your business. They will get to know you operate and your plans, and they need to be able to ensure your IT accommodates these. It is reasonable to expect one or two permanent contacts that you can deal with.
7. How can we log IT issues with you?
When you have an IT problem, it’s really frustrating when you can’t get hold of the company you us to fix it. Make sure your support company either has a dedicated number with someone always available to answer, or another facility such as an online support request system or an email address that goes straight to the support team.
With totality services, you can call, email or raise issues online via our helpdesk software.
8. Do you supply hardware as well as support?
Even if you purchase all your computer equipment, it’s still good to know that your support company can replace any faulty parts themselves, and quickly.
And when it is time to replace your hardware, you may feel better knowing the people who are supporting it have recommended, supplied and installed it – giving you one point of contact if something goes wrong.
We provide hardware for the majority of our clients. To read about this service, click here
9. What does your IT support contract cover?
A support company that replies with “we cover it all” is not one I would recommend trusting. Most support companies will cover the usual Microsoft Office suite of applications, server software, mailboxes, routers etc. However, support for custom software that was built by another company is unlikely to be included.
10. Do you work with specific hardware and software companies?
Variety can be good, but so can working with specific manufacturers. The answer to this should give you confidence that the support company has relationships with the people who make the hardware and software that your business uses.
These questions are by no means exhaustive, but they will provide you with a good footing when you interview the people who may end up being trusted with your IT.