Outsourcing your IT needs allows you to reduce labor costs, gain access to advanced capabilities and make capital funds available. It is a cost-effective, long-term alternative to having an internal IT staff, eliminating the cost of hiring new employees. A business also greatly benefits from the knowledge and experience of a team of IT professionals with extensive industry training. Not to mention, outsourcing non-core business functions allows companies to better allocate capital funds and keeps employees doing business as usual, even during an enterprise-wide software system implementation. It used to be that outsourced IT was ideal for larger businesses. Today, anybody can – and should – outsource their technical needs; IT providers offer their services to resellers of all shapes and sizes. That’s why it’s especially important for resellers to carefully consider their options and zero in on the IT partner that best fits their unique business.
Ask yourself the following questions while looking for an IT partner:
1. Where are you at right now?
First things first: consider the IT resources you currently have.
- Do you have your own IT staff or not?
- Do you need help selecting an application or software?
- Will you be writing your own software application or do you need help?
- Are you comfortable selecting your own equipment or do you need someone to make recommendations?
- Are you starting from scratch or building on an existing platform?
Taking stock of your situation will help you establish the level of support needed to improve. If you already have IT employees, you may only need partial support to supplement it. If you don’t, you may need full support. As mentioned, a good outsourced IT partner should offer packages for businesses of all sizes, so the right partner will be able to provide one that best serves your exact situation.
2. Do you need a partner with experience in a specific industry?
Many outsourced IT companies work closely with certain industries, e.g. point of sale, warehouse management or healthcare. If most of what you do is industry-specific, a company that specializes in your specific industry is your best case scenario. It wouldn’t hurt to research your prospective partner’s existing clients and relationships, especially those that are in your industry. How are their services working for companies similar to you? The right IT partner will be able to provide a few references to prove their problem solving abilities in your specific industry.
3. Can they prove their worth?
The right IT partner should be a one-stop shop for all of your unique business needs – and they should be able to convey that in your initial conversations. To start, give your potential IT providers a list of your specific technical requirements and operational needs, or ask them to submit a proposal outlining how their services can help you. To bring value to your business, your partner needs to understand your problems and work to solve them, rather than simply trying to sell their product.
4. Are you going to require onsite installation or support?
Seek an outsourced IT partner who can provide you with everything you will need to be successful on your own – depending on your level of need. This could include training, installation, troubleshooting and repairs. That said, consider the relationship you need to maintain with your IT partner. How do you prefer to communicate? And after you’ve communicated, how quickly will you need your issue resolved? You should be able to communicate quickly and easily with your provider via live phone support and online resources.
Over the phone: Ideally, you should be able to express your specific concerns to a real person. They should answer your call right away and solve your problem as quickly as possible to minimize downtime and any other negative effects. When speaking with an IT staff over the phone, they should be familiar enough with their products to easily diagnose problems and suggest proven solutions. Also, when inquiring about a repair, it is important that you are able to speak with the IT staff member who performed it.
Online: To better serve you, your prospective IT partner’s website should allow you to register your product to provide you with product updates and announcements. It should also offer online materials like product documentation and warranty information – quick references that allow you to make your queries more specific.
A great IT partner will leave you with all of the additional resources you need to run efficiently. They should not only offer you a smooth installation, but ongoing technical support and services as you continue to use their products. No two businesses or employees are identical, so it’s important to have a variety of support avenues.
Why did you choose your current IT partner?
Or if you don’t have one, what are you looking for?