Do you own a business? In these unusual times getting your online support is vitally important.
Most of your customers will be accessing your services or goods online and not in-person. Your employees will most likely now be working from home and this is probably how the world will continue into at least the early 2020s.
The digital revolution has accelerated and you need to make sure your business is well equipped for the next decade. But what should you look for in an IT company?
Here’s everything you need to know about how to choose an IT company that’s great for your business.
1. Educational Development
Educational development is critical to any company. You need to feel that your staff are equipt to use the latest technology.
Technology changes so quickly that you need to keep on top of it by learning the basics of new programming languages and how to use new hardware. For instance, the traditional keyboard and mouse are now under threat by other modes of interaction with the internet.
Tablets like the iPad Pro are now as powerful as computers and allow interaction with an Apple pencil.
Smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home device also dispense with the need for a visual operation center at all.
All of your staff need to be able to learn how to use this new technology in their everyday working life.
2. Business Development
Remember that outsourcing IT support for small businesses can save you a lot of time and money. If you are considering hiring an IT company then you must ask how can they help you develop your business and achieve goals that you couldn’t do on your own.
Is IT key to your customers’ experience? If this is so then you want your IT company to help you improve your offering to your customers. If your customers are finding your user interface difficult to navigate then ask your IT company to report on this and to offer you some advice on how to solve this.
A great IT company should be proactive in this matter. They deal with your systems on a day-to-day basis and if they see consistent problems then they should be reporting this to you so that you can decide how to correct them.
It’s best not to think of an IT company as a third party but as a key team player that you need to collaborate and work with daily. Remember small businesses can absolutely partner with large companies and you can learn an awful lot from this process.
3. Create a Great Culture
The last thing you want to do is bring abroad to a company that creates a toxic atmosphere in your company.
Sometimes this can happen organically. We aren’t all supposed to get along. Sometimes an IT company has a different mindset and culture than your business. But you must acknowledge this quickly and act on it. If you allow a toxic culture to get out of hand then you could end up sinking your business and losing some top talent.
Be clear on the culture from day one and what each other expects rather than simply diving into things. You could even create a contract which states what the IT company will do and what they won’t do.
Contrary to stereotypes of the British sitcom The IT Crowd, people who work in IT support are not just socially awkward geeks sat in a basement.
In the interests of the team, spirit invites your IT guys out to you on team-building exercises and social events. Invite everyone from the junior engineers to the chief executive of the company.
If there are problems then be sure to be upfront about them but don’t allow whatever problems you have at work to cloud your personal relations. Encourage your employees to get along with everyone.
Affordability is important in these corona times when everyone is strapped for cash. But remember that if you pay peanuts you might end up with monkeys.
You need to tread this balance carefully. Look at what the company is offering compares to what other IT companies are offering on the market. If they seem too cheap to be true then it’s probably true.
That’s not to say that other IT companies couldn’t charge you more for equally bad service.
The best way to determine this is to start with a trial run. Sign up for a contract of no more than two months and see how you feel.
It may seem like a pain if your relationship with a company doesn’t work out because you would need to go through the process of hiring an IT company again. And you are going to have to transfer all of your services to a new provider.
But remember that most services are run from the cloud in the 2020s so changing IT companies shouldn’t be as complex as it has been in the past.
5. Customer Loyalty
Will your IT company offer you some form of customer loyalty if you stay with them for a long period of time.
What’s great about a perk like this is that it rewards loyalty but also makes it cheaper to stay with a company that you might like doing business with.
If you have a good relationship with an IT company, after 6 months you should enquire what discount they can offer the longer you stay with them.
You might want to consider signing a 1-2 year contract but remember that this then ties you to them so you want to be sure that they are a great company to work for and that they are unlikely to change staff significantly or change their offering.
6. Social Responsibility
In the era of the climate emergency and when the internet is increasingly becoming a battleground for criminals and vigilantes you want to make sure any IT company you employ understands its corporate and social responsibility.
This should chime with the mission statement and ethos of your company. If you are a green company committed to reducing your carbon footprint then it would be embarrassing from a PR standpoint if it turned out the IT company was spending millions of dollars on private jets each year to service their highest paying clients.
Equally, pay close attention to the other company the IT companies are hiring. If they are hosting the web traffic of a company that promotes or supports abuse, racism, or sexism then you might want to point this out to them.
While you can’t be fully responsible for another company’s policies and ethos you do have a responsibility as a company to speak up for your values and to consider their responses.
Make sure the IT company is aware of your own ethos and values when you agree to work together. Great communication is another way of ensuring you are on the same page.
7. Easy to Reach
Is the IT company easy to reach on a daily basis? If you are paying a lot of money to an IT company then that entitles you to a quick response to issues.
It should be clear in the contract from day one how long the IT company has to respond to your issues. Your employees should not have to spend all day on the phone getting through to someone if there’s a major issue.
Nor should they have to write endless emails chasing up because of the issue. If this becomes a habit then complain about it and make it clear that you will dispense with their services if it continues.
Better still make it clear what the consequences are if these policies are not followed and even give yourself an out so that you can leave the contract early. This might prove hard to negotiate but stick to your guns.
8. Great Reviews
A great company should have great reviews from current and former clients. Search the internet to see what has been written about IT companies when you consider hiring their IT services.
But also ask the IT company themselves for references. If they object to sending these then this should ring alarm bells.
Here’s How To Hire a Great IT Company
Hiring a great IT company isn’t hard. You need to make sure you have clear guidelines in place when you negotiate with them such as response times and the consequences if they make an error that costs you money.
You should also read some reviews of any company you are considering hiring to get a sense of what they are like to work with. Try to maintain professional and friendly relations at all times.
If you are interested in learning more about how to hire a great IT company, be sure to check out the rest of our site.