Things to consider when choosing your IT service provider

In growing companies, IT strategy can often be left as an afterthought, in a way that isn’t the case for marketing or finance. Kurt Beaumont-Jones, director of Vigo IT Solutions, explains why this shouldn’t be the case and what to bear in mind when choosing an IT service provider

Your IT provider needs to know your business plans. It's a partnership. If you can't tell them your business plans, or where you want to be in three to five years, then it's hard for them to advise what IT system you need to reach or surpass your goal. Your IT infrastructure is a foundation that supports and enables your business. Don't end up with your business adapting to your IT systems – make sure your IT systems support your business.

The cloud isn't the answer to every solution. I'm commonly asked questions from clients that have heard that they should be using the "cloud" and want to know how. The cloud is one tool among many in your arsenal. It could be that certain aspects of your systems should be in the cloud, or it could be that no aspects suit the cloud. Every business is unique and every solution needs to take this into account.

Long term relationships are best when it comes to IT. Every IT service provider works differently, and has slightly different way of delivering their services to you. Some charge call-out fees, some charge a flat monthly fee and others provide blocks of time that you purchase on an annual basis and can then draw from as you need.

Consider the type of contract being offered. Are they trying to lock you into a long-term contract? Do you have a get-out clause? what are the renewal agreements? What are the opening hours and response times? Which method of delivery suits you best? And which provider do you trust the most? IT providers typically have unprecedented access to your systems, so you have to be prepared to place a huge amount of trust in them.

IT moves quickly and there are constantly new developments. You should be able to sit down and have a free informal chat with your IT provider from time to time to simply chat about how things are going and what might be beneficial to your business. Ideally your IT provider should be doing this for you automatically.

Stability is important. Are you being given a new account manager on a quarterly basis? This really isn’t the best way to provide IT services to you. You need to have confidence that your IT service provider knows you and your system personally. You need your IT provider to be stable and understand your needs and systems.

Ask your potential IT provider for any existing clients they are happy to put you in touch with so you can get first hand feedback about the quality of their service. If they’re confident in their quality of service they’ll be happy to let you speak to a selection of existing clients to get some feedback.

Vigo IT Solutions is based in Birkenhead and offers services including network installation, support and maintenance, IT security, IT strategy consultation, telecoms and Microsoft Office 365 support.

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