Top 5 factors to consider when choosing an IT support provider


How to choose an IT support provider

So you’ve made the decision to outsource IT support and boost your business’ infrastructure. But how do you decide who to work with? It can feel like a bit of a minefield.

IT support providers are unique in that, unlike accountants, marketing consultants, and other partners, they work alongside your team and other users day in and day out to help you achieve your business objectives. And so it’s important to choose the right provider first time for your IT system.

Before selecting a provider

Selecting an IT support company is often the first major commercial decision many businesses take. Before selecting a support company it is of paramount importance to consult with your team. Nail down precisely what you require in terms of support packages and ask yourself questions like:

  • What areas of your IT operation do you need help with the most?
  • How much contact do you require with an Account Manager or Account Managers?
  • What is your annual IT support budget for IT projects?
  • What cybersecurity concerns do you have?
  • How much day-to-day IT support do you need?

When sifting through IT support packages and proposals, relate each one back to your business needs. So, here we have provided the top five factors to consider when choosing an IT support company:

Number 1. Background checks.

Given that IT support service providers and technology partners will have daily access to your business-critical systems, data, IT projects, and intellectual property over the course of a twelve-month contract, you need to ensure that they are a fit and proper organisation before conducting an initial meeting.

From a compliance perspective, there are a few things you may want to consider:

Due diligence

You need to make sure that the provider is not a sole trader and is a registered company with Companies House. Also consider using credit check resources such as Company Check. You cannot afford to entrust your systems and IT projects to a one-man-band. It’s also important to ensure that any prospective IT support provider has been operating in the marketplace for a requisite amount of time.

Use Google

If an IT support company has a bad reputation or has operated suspiciously, the internet probably knows about it. Google is your friend. Research their name and company history to expose any bad reviews or incidents of misconduct.

Check their certifications

While the industry has no official regulatory body, IT support companies should be compliant with a number of accepted global standards.

Firstly, the ISO9001 & ISO27001, which are an internationally recognised series of standards. Microsoft Partner status is awarded to IT companies with either a silver or a gold partnership. Finally the ITIL is a globally accepted method of delivering IT services and handling asset management.

Number 2. IT support staff.

After ensuring your prospective IT support company is legitimate, you should focus on the people who will be delivering the end product – its staff. Ask for a video call or face-to-face meeting before signing a contract to gage what kind of personalities you’re going to be dealing with. Ask for the Account Manager, Service Desk Manager, and Tier 3 Engineers or Senior Engineers.

It is important to remember your own staff will not be familiar with industry terminology. With that in mind make sure that anyone you meet can articulate key IT concepts in plain English without overloading on technical terms or acronyms.

You also need to have a firm grasp on an IT support company’s underlying ability to offer a service. Make sure you ascertain how many people they employ, how many offices they work from, and what their staff retention levels are like. An IT support company that employs more than 50 people in multiple locations are unlikely to be able to provide a personalised service.

Number 3. Reviews and references.

The internet provides many ways to check on the kind of services an IT support company provides to its clients. Feefo and Google are both globally renowned review services that provide an invaluable insight into how a prospective IT partner does business.

Rather than glossing over the number of stars provided, be sure to read individual reviews and anecdotal accounts of support, even if it is an award-winning IT support company. Ask the provider for a set of references that are relevant to your industry. If you’re a legal firm, ask for a letter of recommendation from another firm of solicitors. If you work in the public sector, make sure that you speak to other public sector organisations that the provider has worked with. Also, ask questions about day-to-day support and industry-specific software that you use.

Number 4. IT support contracts.

Perhaps the most important part of the entire tendering process is being sure of what you’re signing. The IT support industry is awash with tales of unwitting businesses who have committed to a contract that ties them into unwanted services or extended contract lengths. Here are some things you may need to watch out for:

  • Contract length This should, in maximum, only be 12 months long
  • Anything unclear – Unwanted pre-packaged services, unfair termination clauses, unspecified account management procedures, unspecified or vague operating hours
  • Service level agreements (SLAs) –  Be sure to scrutinise the company’s published service SLAs that govern their accepted response and resolution times. The contract should clearly outline how the IT support company prioritises incoming IT support requests and deals with change management.

Most IT support companies in London operate under a priority system for individual support tickets for customers and adjust their client response and resolution times accordingly.

Number 5: The onboarding process.

Whether you are switching between IT support providers or contracting one for the first time, it’s important to understand precisely how they’re going to integrate you onto their support and monitoring platform. Additionally, you should be aware of how they plan to deploy any software after the contract has been signed.

IT support companies should never charge for the onboarding service. Make sure you ask for a dedicated point of contact who can furnish you with an official onboarding schedule, so that you can forward-plan for any disaster recovery and disruption to your business.

An onboarding process should also include site visits to your company offices. This enables the support company to tag equipment with a unique asset number, take photographs of key pieces of hardware such as servers, cyber security firewalls, and switches, and introduce themselves to members of the management team.

So, those are the top five factors to consider when choosing an IT support provider. If you’d like to find out how you can improve your productivity and tech infrastructure with our leading London IT support services, feel free to reach out to our friendly, experienced team today!