Technological advancements in recent times have been momentous! These advancements have paved the way for technology to grow to the very forefront of businesses all over the globe. It’s no longer just the largest companies in the world that utilize tech; smaller business owners have now realized the value of having good technology intertwined into the everyday business functions of their organizations.
IT plays such a pivotal role in many parts of business in the modern world that it is now imperative that the IT method and tools you use are implemented and, most importantly, maintained in line with the way you and your team work.
IT now needs to be ‘personal,’ and the support around it needs to be the same – this need has highlighted just how poor a job some IT support ‘specialists’ are doing. Most provide traditional support based on fixing things when they break, which we agree is important, of course – but, in the modern world, it is essential that the IT provider you choose doesn’t just support you, but also goes that extra mile and looks ahead to determine how they can promote success for your organization.
The question on a lot of business owners’ minds is ‘So what should I be looking for in my IT provider?’ To answer this question, we have made a checklist of features to look out for which you can refer to when on the hunt for a new provider.
The Checklist – 11 Features of an Expert IT Provider
Proactive not Reactive
Every IT support company claims to be proactive; in actual fact, this is usually because it sounds good in their advertising spiel, but, in reality, they just behave like an insurance policy and show little interest in the organization or their goals. The only time they do show interest – like an insurance provider – is when something goes wrong. This is the same as when you flag or log an issue with them – it is only then that they will react.
The right IT provider will show genuine interest in the prolonged success and safety of your system and organization as a whole. This is the only way to ensure that you are keeping with the times and are going into the future with the right plan as your guide. It’s no good waiting for disaster to strike – doing so could mean the end of your business altogether, depending on the severity of the problem or attack.
Business focus, not tech focus
A good IT provider will be able to overcome the barriers that you experience as a business. They won’t just communicate in regards to tech – of course this will be a part of their job, but every decision they make regarding the tech your organization uses must have the good of the business in mind. Your tech must be right for you and solve operational, compliance, or business challenges, and not just be the latest greatest tools on the market (just because they are brand new doesn’t mean that they are right for you).
A good IT provider should offer expertise at a level which most businesses do not have. Why would you acquire their services otherwise? Would you employ a mechanic to look at your car if you already knew how to fix the car yourself? No, so why do the same with your IT provider? The provider should want to pass on their expertise to their counterparts in-house wherever they can, as well as to your own team. Your employees need to be educated in not just how to behave securely but also how to get the most from the tools at their disposal.
Time, a part of our workday that we can’t speed up or slow down. It is limited and precious, and your IT provider should appreciate that fact. A good provider will incorporate the time constraints that your particular organization must adhere to into their plans, and then cater their approach to the implementation of tools accordingly.
Forethought is arguably the most important item of all on this list. It is slightly different to proactivity as it isn’t necessarily looking forward for changes to IT and tech. Acquiring the assistance of an IT provider that not only knows their stuff in regard to technology, but also in regard to the sector in which your business resides, is invaluable. With this expertise they will be able to look well into the future and not only identify potential problems before they arise but also make potentially business defining decisions well ahead of time – allowing those decisions to be better revised and planned out beforehand.
The right provider will also take their time when things are going well to communicate with entities from across your entire workplace, to learn of any small bugbears that your team may have within a particular element of your IT environment. In terms of forethought, it is great to be constantly looking to the productivity levels of the business in the future, and is also good for employee morale, as your employees will appreciate that their concerns are being taken under consideration and are not just falling on deaf ears.
Absorb the pressure
Every business owner in the world – no matter how prepared or relaxed in their nature – will experience the pressures of the workplace at one point or another. It is understandable, as the success of the business is not only integral for them but also for the number of employees they have too. A good IT provider will make the effort to absorb as much of this pressure as possible. As much as you, as the business owner, will have final say and will still be the overruling voice that ultimately decides whether an idea should be implemented or not, they will handle all of the technical ‘ins and outs’ of the implementation, which will allow you to offload some of that pressure to your provider, in turn allowing you to remain calmer and more focused in as a result.
Flat rate monthly rates
Look out for an IT provider that offers flat monthly rates. When not on a flat rate, if one month you have a particularly unlucky time with your tech, getting your business back on its feet could be an expensive task. IT providers that work on flat monthly rates will be working as efficiently as they can, as it is in their best interest to make sure their clients are up and running smoothly at all times. If they aren’t then they are not being cost effective with their time.
A Clear Catered IT strategy
Your IT support needs to be aligned with the way you, your team, and your organization go about daily work activities. It will ensure that, not only the technology services, tools, and infrastructure you procure are aligned to the way you want to do business, but also that the IT will weave itself seamlessly into daily operations, thereby helping to drive efficiency, support profitability, improve communication, and also ensure compliance. An IT provider will make your IT work around your business, not the other way around.
As we all know – not to be rude but – stereotypically, tech minded individuals aren’t the best communicators. Unfortunately for those tech experts, modern day IT support requires a clear line of beneficial communication in order to be sure that you achieve the most possible from your organization’s IT software and tools.
Don’t settle! A dry conversation with questions like ‘How are things going?’ And ‘Been busy?’ is not good enough. Modern day technology offers untold opportunities for communication – it is, in fact, easier than ever before to remain in constant contact with people – so providers have no excuse. Regular courtesy calls should be a staple of your relationship with your IT provider – this is the only way of being sure they are up-to-date with any changes that are happening in the business, and also amongst your team.
A technological strategy – Road mapping
Traditionally, IT support didn’t include Road mapping. For those that are unfamiliar, a Roadmap is a plan for the future of your IT landscape.
Many businesses have become far too comfortable with in accepting very lackluster IT support, only talking when an issue occurs, and sometimes even struggling to do that correctly. In the modern world it is essential that you have a Roadmap. By creating a clear and concise plan of action to onboard new technological solutions, you can align different sectors of your business like never before – you can co-ordinate IT, operations executives, software engineers, and even sales teams – all of which is beneficial as it gives you the opportunity to micro manage the different sectors of your business and be sure they are all achieving the most possible with their workday whilst simultaneously working in unison toward the same goal.
We all have rules we need to follow; some businesses in certain sectors have more than others, but, regardless, it is essential they are all followed. Traditional reactive IT support included running compliance risks for organisations – the potential legal ramifications of this could be disastrous! In fact, depending on the extent of the breach of rules, it could be business-defining.
As we have already explored, a modern IT specialist will be more than familiar with the sector in which your organization resides and your organization as a whole. They will get under the skin of your team and entire business, and in doing so will become familiar with the regulations in which you are obliged to operate under. A good IT support specialist will guarantee that they are up to date with regulation changes and will adapt your tech accordingly.
We hope that this checklist equips you with the knowledge to find an IT provider that not only offers good IT support in the event of a problem but also a forward-thinking IT strategy, which is catered to your organization with the goal of prolonged success for your business.
The Echelon offering
Since 2002, Echelon Technologies has been a leading provider of IT support and consulting, focusing on small and medium-sized businesses in the Greater Phoenix area. We have helped hundreds of companies, and thousands of users, to increase productivity and profitability by making IT a streamlined part of operations. We equip our clients with customized technology solutions for greater operational value and to reduce risk. Please don’t hesitate to get in contact and see what we can do for you.