7 TIPS ON HOW TO SELECT YOUR NEXT SOUTH FLORIDA IT COMPANY
Selecting the right IT company to support the IT needs of your South Florida business is an important step in securing your business infrastructure. With a growing number of business and computing operations moving online, your business needs a solid IT team more than ever. For most small businesses it simply doesn’t make sense to hire a full-time IT professional to manage your infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in a dedicated team to rely on. This is where the hiring of a reliable and cost-effective IT company comes into play. Clearly there are a lot of choices out there so the question ultimately is which is the South Florida IT provider for you? Here are 7 important considerations to factor in when selecting your next South Florida IT company.
1) AVOID CONTRACTS
Many IT companies, even smaller operations with one or two people, will often require that you sign on for a year…or two…or three. Managed Services companies almost always require contracts. If you can avoid this, we recommend you do. Why? Well, what if you find the service is not as dependable as you’d hoped? Perhaps the costs turn out to be more expensive than you’d been told or there are surprise fees that seem to show up with your bills. Maybe things just never seem to get fixed despite your IT vendor’s many attempts to do so. There are so many things that can happen with IT and you need the flexibility to make a change if things aren’t working out. It should also be said that a vendor that is fairly priced and set up to provide great service should not need to ask you to sign a contract because they will have confidence in their ability to retain you as a client based upon the value they provide your business.
2) ASK ABOUT ADMINISTRATIVE CONTROLS
Very frequently, companies will hire an IT vendor and allow them to maintain and control access to mission critical programs and hardware. It is essential that you possess and maintain administrative rights and ownership to all of your own digital assets and tools. Too often it is the case that a company finds at some point that they need to gain access to a server or some critical program and are reliant on their IT company to gain that access. Imagine if the intention of the IT company is to keep you as a client and not allow you to switch vendors? What if your relationship with the IT vendor sours and they sense you are looking to make a change and choose not to be cooperative? Hopefully they do the right thing but often times that is not what happens. Always own and control your assets and make sure that the IT vendor agrees to this in advance. Honest IT providers will have a policy by which this is done automatically where clients have access online to all their own information at all times. Look for that in your South Florida IT company. This leads us to our next tip…
3) REQUEST REFERENCES
There are few vendors you’ll need to trust more than your South Florida IT company. When you look to hire a service provider or contractor for your home, you normally ask for references correct? If you’re hiring a plumber or an electrician, most people will ask those they trust or do a thorough online search for reviews first. The same is true with the process of screening and hiring business vendors. Much like a trusted attorney, an IT company is a critical component in protecting your business. If you work with a South Florida IT service provider that is unethical, unprofessional or unreliable they can leave you exposed and do damage to your business. Ask to talk to a few of their clients or possibly even check their Google reviews and see if you can select from those who have left reviews to make sure they aren’t cherry picking the few clients that won’t say negative things about them.
When you talk to those clients, ask the following things:
- How long have you worked with them?
- Have you found them to be accessible when you need them and able to resolve your issues quickly and effectively whether remotely or onsite?
- Has their pricing been fair and consistent?
- Have they been proactive in suggesting improvements to your business?
- What do they use as a data backup strategy for your business?
- Have they shared all your company passwords and other critical data with you?
Before you make any decisions about working with your South Florida IT company, you absolutely need to ask for and receive multiple references. If they are unwilling or unable to do this, consider it a red flag and move on.
4) ASK ABOUT SPECIALIZED SERVICES
IT companies have their differences. With most IT companies, you will find that they often have their areas of specialization and may be stronger or weaker in certain areas.
Some IT companies are designed and best suited to work with large corporate entities, while others are more geared towards the needs of startups or smaller entities. There are IT companies who have industry-specific specializations such as Education, Healthcare or Construction. Some provide 24/7 support services and others do not. Some very small IT operations are set up to do little more than administer and update a few simple programs such as Windows or handle basic break/fix issues. Others will take a far more proactive position towards the design and maintenance of your IT infrastructure.
Keep in mind, there is no one universal IT company that is best for every business. That is why you need to look around to find an IT company that is best suited for your company and ask them some pointed questions about what they do better than their competitors.
5) DISCUSS RATES
When you are reviewing South Florida IT companies, rates can get confusing. Some providers, particularly Managed Services companies, charge a monthly fee based upon the number of users that includes some level of basic desktop support and updates. This is often includes remote monitoring and management which is designed to catch issues with equipment, software updates, etc in real time so that they are resolved before it becomes a problem. There may be additional hourly charges for other projects and even variable hourly for different types of support based upon the complexity of the requirement. There are fees for cloud backup, cloud server management and hosting, etc. and these fees can get quite expensive. These online services, if set up and managed by the IT provider, may be padded with a nice profit margin for the IT provider. You might find some listed rates on their website but things can get complicated based upon the number of admins or “power users”, how many accounts exist on the network, cloud storage requirements, data management tools, POS systems or other things that are specific to the needs of yours or any business.
You will likely find a large variance in the pricing models and costs from one IT company to another. Fixed monthly costs are not always going to end up being what you actually spend and you really need to look at the hourly rates that are being charged. There is a lot to consider and review here and it is better to do your due diligence up front than to invest in a relationship with a provider who you find is charging too much, particularly if that situation comes with a contract term that you cannot escape!
6) FIND OUT ABOUT AVAILABILITY AND REPSONSIVENESS
One of the biggest reasons South Florida businesses look to hire an IT services company is to get timely technical support from a team of professionals who will be there when you need the help. When something happens and you can’t operate your business the way you need to, you need to have the ability to reach someone and get help quickly.
When it comes to troubleshooting and support services, an IT provider should be able to respond quickly to their clients’ needs. Not all IT companies provide remote desktop support services. This is particularly the case with 1-2 man operations that are geared to very small businesses. It is just not possible for those companies to be servicing a client, on vacation or sick and at the same available to log in to troubleshoot your problems. If they are working on another client, you will have to wait until they are free to get the help you need and this can become a problem quickly.
Your IT provider should have a desktop support software that they use to access your computers and servers remotely inclusive with their service. Can they help you remotely or will they need to come into your office? If they do offer a remote support service, do they keep professional attendants on staff during business hours that are available to assist you?
Sometimes things can’t be fixed over the internet and your IT team will need to come to your office. If so, will they be there in a few hours or will it take days? In an emergency situation, this is critical to the well-being of your business. Waiting for a downed network to be repaired can cost your business thousands of dollars and potentially could mean customers turning to your competition. Talk to your prospective South Florida IT vendors to find out how they address both remote and onsite troubleshooting and support before you make any decisions.
7) LOOK OUT FOR UPSELLS AND “IT OVERKILL”
When you start talking to South Florida IT companies, you should have a general idea of what your business needs are, where your company is heading in the next several years and how you would like to see IT functioning within your company. You don’t need to know all the specifics of what types of equipment and tools you may need, but you should understand your business needs and how IT can enhance them. If you don’t, some IT vendors may attempt to upsell you with services that sound impressive and that they claim you should invest in but that you absolutely do not need. We have seen this over and over again, particularly with companies that can afford to invest in more expensive IT solutions. There is no need to pay for things that are overly expensive, complicated and do not fill a direct requirement of your business.
Do you really need a Cat 5 dedicated cloud server that allows for 10x the amount of data you’ll ever need? If that’s what you’re getting you’re paying for a service you’re really not using and you can be sure your IT company is making a nice margin marking the costs of that monthly service up. Come into your vendor review prepared with an idea of what your needs are and you’ll have a much better chance of not getting oversold.
YOUR SEARCH FOR THE RIGHT SOUTH FLORIDA IT COMPANY
If you have yet to secure a solid IT company to support your business, or if you currently have one and aren’t fully satisfied with the costs or service being provided, now is the time than to begin searching for the right South Florida IT partner. At User Friendly Technology Services, we provide every client with a personalized experience that is tailored specifically to the needs of your business. Whether you want a company to call for those rare times that something just isn’t working properly or you want a full-service, proactive partner to design, implement and manage a robust IT infrastructure, User Friendly has the expertise and staff to support your needs. With No Contracts, No Monthly Fees and hourly rates that are highly competitive, we offer our clients honest and practical IT solutions to meet their day-to-day business needs. Call us now, our team members are standing by and ready to answer any questions you might have.
Like us on Facebook.