How to Shop for a Managed IT Service Provider

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Do you need help with your company’s IT? You have a few options. You can completely offload your IT support to a remote service provider, a managed IT company can work with your CIO, you can have an IT person on-site as needed, or a combination of everything. Here’s how to get what your company needs from an outsourced IT agreement.

In our experience at Netsafe, we’ve encountered companies that have had a poor relationship with their previous IT service provider because the company’s needs fell outside of the parameters of the IT agreement, which can lead to additional fees on top of the regular monthly charges.

For example, we had a client that was doing an electronic data transfer. The client said they would do the work but every time they did it, they ran into issues and an engineer was needed. That engineer was $300/hour instead of being a part of the monthly service. We don’t want that to happen to you.

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Questions to Ask a Managed IT Company

Asking the right questions during the interview process will make sure you’re not forced to pay extra after an IT-related emergency. Like any business relationship, the scope of work should be clearly defined. Here’s what to ask.

Ask about the staff

You get access to an entire team when working with a managed IT company. This is a massive advantage over hiring an in-house IT technician. IT service providers have a wealth of expertise and experience to draw from. Ask about a company’s specialties and certifications. Ask about the size of the staff.

Get a clear idea of the number of people available to service your account. This will make sure everyone is on the same page regarding response time and after-hours availability in your agreement.

Ask about services

You may have an idea of what your company needs but a managed IT service provider might have a solution you never thought about. Is Remote Helpdesk Support enough? Do you need someone on-site three days a week?

Talking to an IT service provider about this will make your agreement true to your needs.

Ask about billing

Don’t overlook the simple stuff, trust us. Asking about the billing arrangement will avoid issues in the future.

In our experience, we’ve seen some IT providers who charge extra for computer management tools, email accounts they give to you (which in some cases should be free), and even charging more for providing a branded file sharing application. Whereas, you could use an application like ShareFile.

We’re believers in the all-you-can-eat model. One monthly payment covers everything. The client never has to worry about additional charges and the IT company is motivated to make sure everything is working well because they’re not getting paid by the hour. (We believe it’s the right way to do business.)

Consider hourly rates, blocked out times or a mix of both if these models are a better fit. The risk here is an IT company taking advantage of the pay-as-you-go nature of this set-up.

Ask about the agreement

What do you need? What do you think will need? Having a clear road map of what you require will make sure it’s included in the agreement. Here are some of the services you should consider including:

  • Designated IT Technician in Your Office
  • Access to Helpdesk and Technical Support Concierge
  • Backups and Servers Maintenance
  • Lifecycle Management – Licenses and Hardware
  • Software Installation and Support

There are too many possible services to list out here but the idea is to determine what falls within the scope of work and if out of scope work costs more money. At the end of the day, it’s a game of defining all of your costs. It should be clear to all parties what the client is getting and how much it’ll cost. This will keep everyone happy.

Contact our Netsafe team if you have any questions about working with an IT service provider or anything else IT related.

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