Finding the right IT support is one thing, making sure they do a good job month-on-month is another. As with any client-provider relationship, it can take a little time to find your groove so it’s fair to assume you’ll need to give them enough time to get to know the business, the people they’re working with and the kind of IT issues you’re facing, before you see their best work.
However, when the time is right, it’s good practice to evaluate the service you’ve had to date and set up regular reviews, so you can make sure your business or agency is:
- Getting the level of service it needs
- Seeing real benefits because the provider is on board and
- On the right price plan
Here are some questions to help with your review.
It’s worth saying upfront: The more organised you are, the more they can be too, so some of these questions might help you as well.
- Can you list any specific business needs or objectives your IT support have helped deliver?
It’s important your IT partner is invested in your business plans and helps move you forward. Sharing your objectives and putting dates against projects will help them stay focused, but you should be very clear that you’ll be judging their success on the role they play.
IT improvements, upgrades or developments should be driving efficiencies, so ask them to be specific about the difference their input is making.
- Are they meeting their SLAs?
A promise is a promise, so if your provider isn’t meeting the service level agreements they sold their business on, it’s time to ask why.
It’s likely your fee is set around your service level, so if they’re not meeting targets and your dates don’t feel like a priority to them, alarm bells should be ringing.
- Do they take you and your business into account?
A provider who values your business should take time to understand your challenges and issues to help you achieve success.
Do they talk to you? Do they listen to you? Are they available when you need support? Do they go out of their way to help or do they just do the bare minimum?
- Are they proactive?
A provider that’s taking the time to get to know your business and ways of working, should be asking questions that challenge your IT infrastructure and processes, in the hope of finding efficiencies and troubleshooting barriers in their role as your virtual CIO.
- Do you have work processes in place?
Good processes allow everyone to understand the role they play and where they’re expected to actively participate.
Your IT support should be happy to help you put processes in place, because it will smooth the path for everything they do going forward and give everyone the visibility they need. If you’re currently without any real processes or there’s a lack of organisation when you come to raise or resolve issues, chances are you’re enduring unnecessary headaches.
- Do you always know what’s going on?
You don’t have to be hanging over anyone’s shoulder and everyone should be given enough space to do their job, but if you question how your IT support partner is spending their time or find you don’t always know what they’re working on, there’s a strong possibility your business isn’t being given enough consideration, or you’re paying for support you’re not getting.
Just as an internal IT team would, a busy, productive IT partner should have no problem keeping you in the loop, providing regular updates that show the tasks they’re working on, the objectives of work in progress and their most recent wins. If you don’t get this already, you need to build more reporting into your agreement.
- Are they easy to communicate with?
Having a partner you can communicate with easily can make a huge difference. They say there’s no such thing as a silly question, but if you worry about sounding silly or saying the wrong thing in front of them - that’s a problem.
Your IT support is there to alleviate issues, not create them, so conversations with them should be easy and reassuring.
- Do they go the extra mile?
A provider who does what you ask and fixes any IT disasters if and when they arise is great, but one that’s proactive about finding ways to make you more efficient, innovative, competitive and profitable are worth their weight in gold.
- Are they knowledgeable?
Sometimes it takes working with a team for a while before you can appreciate the depth of their knowledge and experience. If you’ve been in partnership for some time, you should have plenty of examples to help evaluate whether they understand your challenges, industry and the kind of solutions that work best for you.
You rely on them for very specific expertise, so if you find they often fall short or you have to pay for additional services or IT contractors to resolve issues, it might be time to ask whether they’re the right provider for you.
Find out how outsourcing your IT support can future-proof business or agency by downloading our eBook on the Role of It In Your Growing Agency.