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A Guide to choosing your next IT provider – Choose a provider tailored around you

Choosing an IT provider that’s a good fit for your business isn’t always easy. You have to weigh-up a number of factors such as where a provider is located, the level of support they offer, whether they offer guaranteed response times or proactive maintenance and how much all this is likely to cost.

However, the relationship between an IT service provider and their clients isn’t as simple as a typical service provider/client relationship; there also needs to be a degree of compatibility. It’s important to choose a provider who understands the stresses and strains that businesses like yours operate under. This means having a proven track record working with businesses in your sector, or with businesses operating under similar constraints.

Depending on your IT demands you also need to ensure that the provider has the skills, experience and capacity to support you effectively.

 

How can I tell if an IT provider will be a ‘good fit’ for my business?

Considering posing the following questions to determine whether a provider is right for you…

What size is your team and what’s your geographic reach?

While many elements of IT support are carried out remotely, there may be times when you’ll need on-site support, particularly when it comes to planning and implementing changes. It’s, therefore, best to choose a provider that is relatively local or one with multiple offices and the resources to support clients spread over a wide area.

Additionally, consider the size of your business and how that contrasts with the provider. If your business is home to 50 IT users spread across 4 offices and the support provider is a ‘one man and his dog’ operation, then it’s unlikely to be a suitable match.

Do you understand my industry?

If your sector means operating under a strict regulatory authority, you’ll need an IT partner who understands these constraints and can work with you to strategise and plan accordingly. This is particularly important in sectors such as finance and healthcare, where regulatory bodies impose strict operational constraints, many of which have substantial implications for IT systems.

Then there is of course GDPR, a body of legislation that affects all businesses in one way or another. Ask the provider how they’ll go about helping you meet your obligations under GDPR and (if relevant) any other regulations you may be subject to.

An understanding of your industry also means the provider will be more familiar with the systems and processes common to businesses in your sector. They’ll be familiar with or have some knowledge of the software you use, they’ll understand what is important and what isn’t, and they’ll be able to propose solutions that meet your needs while being realistically priced.

  • Are they familiar with your systems? If you use finance software, a CRM or an EPOS system for example ask whether or not they are familiar with such systems to ensure they have the knowledge and experience to support you.
  • What project work have they carried out? If you intend to make upgrades to your IT system in the near future it might be a good idea to seek a partner with expertise in the relevant areas. For example, if you intend to install a new phone system, look for an IT provider with experience in business communications. Some providers may be able to get you a good deal on new hardware through longstanding partnerships with trusted vendors.
  • Ask for customer referrals. Seek to get in touch with one of the provider’s current or previous clients, ideally from your sector. If the IT provider has confidence in their service they shouldn’t mind you contacting a client for a reference.

What is the minimum contract length?

The last thing you want to do is tie your business into a 12-month contract with a lacklustre IT provider. Many of the best MSPs offer short contracts as they’re confident that their clients will want to stay of their own volition thanks to a high standard of service.

Will you take the time to get to know my business?

Businesses are as unique and idiosyncratic as the people who run them. The best IT providers understand this and seek to get to know their client businesses on an individual basis. While the above question may be met with the response: “yes, of course,” here are a few signs that a provider values their client relationships:

  • A dedicated point of contact. This means you’ll be assigned an account manager who will get to know your business well and will likely become familiar with you and your team on first-name terms.
  • They speak your language. Some IT professionals exist in the bubble of the technology space, completely oblivious to the commercial needs of the businesses they serve. You want a business-savvy IT provider who can not only “talk tech” but also explain how changes will likely affect your business both financially and operationally.
  • They have longstanding clients. The presence of Longstanding clients is a sign that a provider nurtures and puts effort into relationships.

 

We’re Netplatforms.

We’re Net Platforms and we have years of experience in supporting small-medium businesses across London and Essex with such technology challenges. We’ll get to know your business and create the most appropriate solution to meet your technical requirements while being commercially sensible in cost. Why not get in touch with our team today and explore how you can prepare your business for the future of telephony with VoIP technologies.

0207 993 9035 or hello@netplatforms.co.uk.

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Book a no-obligation discovery call with a member of our team today by calling 0207 993 9035 or hello@netplatforms.co.uk