Shopping for IT companies on price alone is tantamount to comparing bruised apples to a tender steak. There is no comparison.

It’s understandable when businesses shop for an IT provider based on price but just about every managed IT provider offers a different service so it’s impossible to get an apples-to-apples comparison. Some only fix things as they break. Some are one-and-two-person shops and don’t have the capacity to serve your business. Other IT providers include regular strategic meetings to plan your IT to meet your future goals, use industry best practices and have essential expertise in areas like compliance and security.

This is not to suggest that price considerations be thrown out the window. Price is just one decision-making factor. It’s important to get the level of service, expertise and protection that are going to help your business thrive, grow and achieve your goals.

Choosing your IT provider on price alone is going to cost you: downtime, solutions you may not need, more time spent troubleshooting network issues, security breaches, slow resolution times and a lack of strategic IT planning.

We recommend shopping around and talking to several IT providers. To help you make the best decision for your company, we’ve put together this list:

 7 Things to Ask Managed IT Providers Before You Choose One

1.      How can they align your IT with your business goals?

Technology can and should support your strategic direction just as much as it provides for your day-to-day operations. An IT expert should be there to advise you on how to align your IT with your business goals. Without regular meetings to discuss this essential strategic alignment, your IT provider can’t know what your needs really are. And neither will you. At Deerwood Technologies, we meet with clients regularly and provide quarterly reports that show clients how we are managing their IT and any recommendations we have to keep your IT on track to support your business.

2.      What solutions do they sell?

If they are constantly pushing one vendor, then their focus isn’t on finding the most sensible solutions for your business. They’re more focused on a one-size-fits-all model. Not only does that present specific problems for some industries (such as compliance and integration with line-of-business software), but it underscores that the IT provider is not really going to be a provider who aligns technology with your strategic vision.

3.      What security services are included in their managed services offering?

So many businesses are surprised to learn that having an IT provider doesn’t mean you have good security coverage. Or any, for that matter. Firewalls and antivirus protection are not adequate. Security should be integral into every aspect of your IT environment. Add-ons or ad-hoc solutions will do little to protect your business. Be sure you seek out a firm that has in-house security experts that can offer in-depth, specific recommendations based on your company’s existing environment, needs and goals.

4.      What steps do they take to prevent problems on the network?

IT companies that only fix things are not strategic, are not going to align with your goals and are not going to take steps to prevent things from breaking in the first place. This includes running patches, monitoring, automated alerts and threat detection.

5.      What is their documentation policy?

Documentation is the unsung hero of quality IT care. It’s the systematic record-keeping of your entire IT environment: servers, switches, configurations, software, passwords and so on. This level of information ensures continuous coverage of your IT and makes it possible for you to move to another IT provider with relatively little disruption or confusion on the new IT provider’s part. It also ensures you have what you need to your own systems.

6.      What can they tell you about their standard procedures?

Standard procedures are a great indication of a mature company that has expertise and understands the IT industry. If you say, “tell me about some of your standard procedures” and you get a deer-in-the-headlights response, it’s a red flag.

7.      Do they have referrals you can call?

Credibility is crucial. Ask for referrals and follow through on the phone calls. When you speak to their referral companies, ask questions. Here are two we recommend: 1. How long does it take to get critical problems resolved? 2. What is the IT provider doing to ensure your security?

The important thing to remember is that your IT provider should be able to strategically align with your business and take the burdens of IT off your shoulders.

Outsourcing your IT? Make sure you put your business in expert hands. Contact us today online or call us at 218-534-5357.