You can’t swing a digital cat in the information technology realm without hitting a tech provider. If you’re a small business seeking a dependable one, the good news is that you have an abundance to choose from. The bad news is also that you have an abundance to choose from.
How do you find the most reliable one for your company?
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Finding the right provider is like any other business decision. You’ll need to weigh numerous factors to see which one rises to the top. And because the space is crowded, it’s likely that many of them will be contending to do business with you.
Before you sign on the dotted line, do your research. You can find a reliable tech provider if you’re willing to look hard enough. Here’s how.
If you’re like most small businesses, having your own IT department is a pipe dream. It’s simply not financially feasible to hire and retain the type of talent you’ll need. But with so many companies ready to fill that void for you, outsourcing offers the perfect solution.
Keep in mind that you’re outsourcing a function exceedingly vital to the customer experience and company security. That means you need more than just a tech provider. You need a partner, and one that can provide everything you really need.
Look for Wi-Fi equipment suppliers that can bundle a cloud-based software system with the hardware. And make sure it’s a system with features that are easy for everyone to use in-house.
Some suppliers deliver AI-driven cybersecurity monitoring and dashboards that make it a breeze to analyze data captured by your system. You can map customer journeys, evaluate content, and gain valuable market insights that help you anticipate the next big opportunity.
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Leave the technical stuff to the tech provider. But find one with the willingness and the capability to provide significantly more than just updated hardware. Your provider should be as invested in your success as you are.
Bearing in mind that you are engaging a partner to handle your IT needs, approach the process like an employee hire. Remember you aren’t employing someone to box up orders in the back room. You’re essentially hiring a senior executive.
Create a job description and a job specification, both of which serve key roles in finding the best IT partner. The former describes the services, roles, and responsibilities you want the provider to fulfill. The latter specifies the expertise and experience you’re seeking, not just of the company but of the talent it employs.
Once the proposals start coming in, you can start culling those that don’t fit both descriptions. That will narrow the field and point you toward those providers who, on paper, appear qualified for the opening. Then, it’s time to talk budget with top candidates.
In this case, interviews are presentations, but the concept is the same as hiring an employee. And you shouldn’t engage a provider without verifying credentials and talking to references. Doing so is also a great way to address any potential conflicts of interest.
Talking to a prospective provider’s past and present clients is a great way to get a handle on its performance. At the same time, don’t disqualify a startup with little history if it seems to satisfy your requirements. A hungry provider helping you build your IT capabilities might be a partnership match made in heaven.
IT problems don’t occur just during business hours. In fact, it’s more likely that Murphy’s Law will apply here. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong — at 3 a.m.
A reliable tech provider will not only provide 24/7/365 support but will staff those hours with top-performing talent. If anything fails with your tech infrastructure at any time, there will be an appropriately trained pro to troubleshoot the issue. If that’s not a provider’s standard operating procedure, you can’t trust it to be reliable.
The provider should also be monitoring your system around the clock to nip any issues in the proverbial bud. Remember, you’re contracting with the company to fill a void you can’t financially afford internally. The provider can’t leave you exposed.
For all the remarkable advantages cloud-based systems offer, they also come with some risks. Network security and data protection could be compromised. IT providers that don’t address such vulnerabilities in their standard operating procedures and in real time simply aren’t reliable.
When you contract with a tech provider, you aren’t ordering merchandise. You’re investing in a always-on service to solve always-possible challenges. Its SOP should be ASAP.
Perhaps finding a reliable tech provider begins with understanding all that “reliability” entails. It’s not just about answering when you call or delivering as promised in a contract.
Reliability is about safety, security, trustworthiness, accuracy, accountability, loyalty, and honesty. How you measure these attributes for your company may differ from how they’re measured by another. But it’s up to you to decide which ones you value.
With so many tech providers out there, it’s a buyer’s market. At the end of the day, a provider with a glitzy presentation promising you the moon probably isn’t the most reliable one. Go beyond what looks like glittering gold and make sure you get down to brass tacks.