As companies start to grow many reach the stage where they need to get expert IT support. The impact of a computer virus, machines breaking down or even computer systems not working to capacity can lead to a loss of employee productivity which can have a significant financial impact on a company.
Rather than recruit a full time IT Manager, which can be very expensive, many companies opt to outsource their IT. But if you are looking to outsource your IT, or if you have already outsourced your IT and it’s time to renew your contract, what should you look out for?
Here are 7 things we think every company should consider when outsourcing their IT:
1. What level of support do you need?
Before you outsource your IT think about the support you need. You will certainly want a rapid response if things go wrong but also think about your long term needs. Is your business expanding – if so will you need a company who can support you as you grow with IT equipment for new users or give you expert advice on software such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system when you get to that stage? Do you need a company that can offer additional services such as web hosting or telephony, meaning you can have all your IT solutions in one place?
You also need to make sure that any company you outsource to can support the operating system(s) you use. Many providers don’t have expertise across all platforms so make sure you find a supplier who can give you the support you need.
Hopefully the IT company you choose will have a passion for technology – but make sure this is grounded in what’s right for your business needs. You need to find a company that will advise you to upgrade or change your software only because it will benefit your business – not just to follow the latest technology trend.
Outsourcing should, of course, be cheaper than employing your own IT specialist but it can be worth finding out about the experience of the staff. If you use a company with a team with a range of experience from IT Director through to technician you’ll benefit from being able to call on the level of support you need when you need it.
And of course you must consider how a contract is priced – is the cost per employee or per device? Contracts per device can start to become costly if your employees have access to desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and mobiles.
3. Make sure you read the contract
This goes without saying but there are a couple of areas that you should focus on. Firstly the length of a contract is an important – make sure the minimum contract length is reasonable and there are no extended ‘tie in periods’.
Secondly make sure you read the small print, particularly regarding software licences. It can make it harder (or more costly) to leave a contract with companies who put software licences in their name and have total password control.
4. A supplier’s reputation
Ask for customer testimonials – a good company will have a number of these, some of which should be recent. It’s also good if you see evidence of the company giving great service or ‘going the extra mile’.
5. What are they like as a company?
Reviewing factual aspects such as contract details and pricing are essential but don’t forget to consider how closely they are aligned to you as a business. Understanding a potential supplier’s approach to IT can often give you a great insight into whether a potential suppliers shares your business philosophy. For example is there evidence that they are business people who understand IT as an enabler for their business or have they set up their company because they simply love technology? Asking how they use IT in their business can often give you a great insight.
6. Can they meet your needs?
Outsourcing should mean you have a reliable source of support so it’s important to understand what resource is available to you to call on. A company of 1 person may be exactly what you need but you may want to find out how many clients they have and how they manage when several clients have a problem at the same time.
7. Are they a good ‘fit’ with your company?
Just as when recruiting a member of staff, you want to be able to feel that an outsourced supplier fits well with your existing team. For example if your dress code for work is smart and you have lots of customers on your premises how will a representative of your IT supplier fit in if they need to visit and make a repair?
Hopefully these hints and tips will help when considering outsourcing your IT or reviewing your existing contracts. If you want to find out about our services to set up PCs and networks to ensure they are secure, design your IT infrastructure to meet your business needs, provide ongoing support or regular maintenance to keep your systems running Download our FREE information pack