December 16, 2015

When looking for an IT support company, it can seem like every company out there is cut from the same cloth. They offer support contracts, telephone assistance and a dedicated account manager. However, it’s worth spending a little time to do some thorough research. Researching potential IT companies may seem like a time-consuming task, particularly when you have other business matters that need to be taken care of, but the more minutes you put in now, the fewer hours of IT headaches you’ll have to endure in the future. By selecting the right company, you may also be able to significantly reduce the risk of downtime.

Here are what we consider to be the most important questions to ask when looking for the right IT support for you:

What support packages do you offer?

What kind of support packages does the company offer? Can they cater for the needs of your business today and any demands you may have tomorrow? Most companies will offer one or more of the following:

  • Pay-as-you-go support: You only pay an hourly rate for the time you need, or a fixed price fee for the call out. You should ask how they charge – A fixed price might be beneficial for problems that take a long time to fix, but an hourly rate will be more cost effective in the long run.
  • Break-fix support: As the name suggests, if something breaks they’ll fix it. They won’t, however, show you how to improve productivity or manage workflows. Think of it like an insurance policy.
  • Managed service support: This is where your IT support company actively monitors and manages your systems to reduce the chance of things going awry. You should look around, as some companies will offer it as standard when taking up services such as VoIP or Fibre, like we do.

The business you choose to help with your IT should be flexible, so they can always offer you the support you need, when you need it.

Where are you located?

The location of your designated company is more important than you think. For instance, if they are providing services such as cloud hosting or VoIP, you should find out how many servers and switches they have, and where they are located. This can impact the quality of service they provide and is incredibly important for private or sensitive data. The location of their servers could affect your ability to accept certain contracts in the future.

How qualified are you?

Look out for a team of qualified technicians and engineers. What accreditations have they earned? What training do they have? On top of this, it’s always good to ask about what kind of training they are currently taking or are planning to in the near-future ­– the best IT support companies will keep their staff trained to the highest levels possible.

Do you outsource your services?

Try to find out whether a prospective team keeps everything in-house or if they outsource some of their services. Often, the best IT support companies keep everything in house, so they can streamline the process from receiving a complaint to getting it fixed.

Are there any hidden fees or charges?

You need an IT support company that will be there to help you, not one that will sting you with charges at every turn. Before you sign up, find out what you’re entitled to. Do you get unlimited telephone or remote support? Do they charge for onsite support or does it come as standard?

What is and isn’t supported?

Although they may offer Windows and Microsoft Office support, you should find out if they can help with other things like Wi-Fi routers and printers. If they can, it means you only have to talk to one person when dealing with any IT headaches. This can make life much easier.

Do you offer proactive support?

A good IT support company will fix problems as fast as they can. A great IT support company will stop problems before they cause any noticeable damage by pro-actively monitoring and managing your systems. They will also support ‘out of hours’ administration, updates and maintenance. This is especially useful for those in the health or education sectors.

 

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How can we contact you?

When you have an IT headache, the last thing you want to happen is to be left on your own. So, before making a decision, find out how their support request system works. Do they have an online portal or an email-based ticketing system? If your internet goes down, how should you contact them? Do they allocate you a dedicated account manager with a dedicated phone number to contact them on? An account manager can be really beneficial. They’ll get to know your business inside-out and should readily be available to help you when you need them most.

Do you offer an SLA?

Will you receive a guaranteed response time with your contract? If your server goes down, can they promise to get you back up and running before the working day is done? With the ever increasing costs of downtime, you should look for companies that offer a great Service Level Agreement (SLA).

How else can you help my business?

You should speak to each company about the other managed IT services and solutions they offer or are looking to offer over the next 12 months. Can they help you with VoIP and telephony troubles? Can they help you connect to the cloud? If your business has any projects coming up over the next 12 months, you should talk to these companies to see if they can help.

Although not essential, do they also offer added value products (where possible) free of charge? If they do, it shows they are committed to their clients and want to offer them the best service possible.

Do you know what we need?

When choosing an IT support company, you need to find someone who understands the needs of your business and even better, understands how those needs might change over time. Do they support other companies in your sector, or even your competitors?

If a prospective support company does work with other businesses in your sector, you should speak to those businesses and find out what it’s like to work with them. Do they have any problems with the quality of service? This way, you can get a genuine, hands-on perspective; not just a cliché quote about how “our clients love to work with us…”

Do you offer any discounts?

Although it may seem rude, you should always ask about any discounts they have on offer. Many IT support companies will give you a better deal if you agree to a longer contract, for instance. However, before signing up to a longer contract, remind yourself that if things were to not go as planned, you’ll still have to abide by your contract until its expiration date.

How can we cancel our contract?

Bringing an end to your support contract can seem like a daunting task. So it’s best to make sure that switching companies is the best option. You want to leave on amicable terms. That’s why you should have any contracts checked over by your business’ legal department or by a solicitor. You need to know if you will incur any charges or fines when exiting a contract prematurely.

Before cancelling your IT support contract however, take a look at our latest blog that explains how to switch IT support companies.

Whether you’re looking for ongoing support or would like to move your company’s important data to the cloud, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Synextra today. We’re an IT support team based in Manchester and we strive to help businesses of all shapes and sizes achieve their goals with computing and telecom solutions tailored to their needs.