Every modern company needs IT services, and businesses will either cultivate their own expert team of IT specialists or utilize third-party resources to fill the gaps.
But IT is a broad capability, which covers everything from applications to cybersecurity. So, how does a business confidently choose an IT service provider with so many IT service needs to focus on? It's a challenging question – primarily because it relies on understanding what the company needs plus the technology itself. It's no surprise that it can be a little confusing.
But we have good news for you...
Third-party IT service providers are plentiful, with specializations, services, and experts to provide assistance to their customers. The obstacle is choosing the right one and the right kind of services.
Please keep reading to learn about nine important criteria to help steer your organization in the right direction.
1. Start with a Comprehensive “Needs” Report
Each business is its own entity. As such, what you need from an IT service provider will vary based on the business itself.
Therefore, identifying and documenting your needs is a critical component in establishing which IT services are required by your organization. If you lack this, trying to adopt a "one size fits all" IT solution will probably end up with wasted capital, not enough efficiency, and weaker IT overall.
Step one in finding the right IT services, and service provider, is creating a comprehensive “needs” report which outlines the company’s requirements. Do you need communication solutions? Maybe backup recovery options? Or network monitoring? This is the point where you establish the fundamentals, so the business has a plan of action. You can use a variety of methods to acquire this information, like discussing weak areas with department heads or conducting rigorous surveys.
Once you have this report, you can move forward. It's crucial all relevant teams are on board with the report, as well. This way, there should be no future hang-ups or disagreements about what the company needs.
2. Consider IT Consultation
If you've established a “needs” report, but still come up scratching your head, it's worth considering IT consultation services. This is usually a third-party that does exactly what this sounds like: it consults your company and creates technological roadmaps. These roadmaps flag necessary benchmarks for your company when selecting IT services. Additionally, consultation can help when choosing hardware and software.
Of course, deciding if you need consulting services is another realm altogether. Not all consultation services provide what you need. So, before you engage a consultant, ask some critical questions like: are we making headway in upgrading IT, is it cost-effective, and are we making the right IT service choices?
3. Don’t Overlook the Need to Scale
If your business feels confident in its needs, it's time to look into the services themselves. There are definitely major points to consider for any IT service.
The first is scalability and you need to make sure the service in question can match your rate of growth. If your company expands, can the service(s) as well? If so, what are the limitations? How much will it cost?
4. Seek to Centralize Delivery
Another major point to consider is centralization. In other words, a platform and/or service which involves most – if not all – of the company processes into a single, easy-to-use delivery platform. There are a variety of models for this, like a Universal Communication model or Software as a Service (SaaS).
This is crucial to any IT service, as agility in the workday is important in all areas of an organization. Managers, IT, and staff need the ability to access important functions at any time. Thus, centralization where appropriate is critical to working efficiently for all aspects of your IT infrastructure.
5. Factor in Mobile Accessibility
Mobile device use in the workplace is another component to any IT service delivery model. According to Statista, over 4 billion people use smartphones and mobile devices in some capacity, including work-related activities.
That means, whatever IT services you're looking at must have mobile compatibility. It's not just for the benefits of a BYOD (bring your own device) policy – mobile devices play an important role with workplace agility. Accessing important workplace projects and communication from anywhere is a major boost to productivity.
6. Make Security a Priority
The absolute last thing you want when utilizing third-party IT services is weak security. Data breaches are on the rise, with numerous big companies falling victim to cyber-attacks in this year alone. Plus, there’s phishing scams, ransomware, and various social engineering techniques hackers use to compromise people and data.
If your IT services rely on data centers, back-up services, or third-party resources, they need the best in cybersecurity. If they're compromised, so too is your organization's data.
7. Weigh Up the Benefits of Service Provider Specializations
Not all IT service providers are equal. Therefore, when searching for an appropriate provider, you'll want the appropriate skillsets/capabilities that are found in service-providers’ specialists.
Such specialists and experts are great at identifying needs that are tailored to your business. Cybersecurity specialists, for instance, draw from their backgrounds in serving multiple clients and businesses. They can provide unique insights and solutions to support mission-critical issues.
Thus, if your company has specific needs, look to service providers with the related specific staff and skill sets.
8. Ensure that the Selected Service Provider is Cost Effective
Ultimately in business, it's all about the bottom line. Critical investments in IT which don't return on efficiency, security, and service, isn't money well spent. Potential service providers, then, need to meet your standards and excel at them.
An IT service provider should work with you on achieving company goals and milestones. If your benchmark is establishing a face-lift on customer support via VoIP, for instance, the service provider should both facilitate this need and provide affordable, scalable options, without unnecessary migration or integration headaches.
9. Invest in Cloud Services When Possible
Virtualization, cloud, and SaaS are convenient models for scaling resources for companies of any size. They're absolutely worth considering too, as they can simplify numerous workplace processes and add additional infrastructure, and capacity, at the click of a button.
A lot of what I've covered are, in fact, part of cloud service provider models. Some businesses aren't comfortable with "handing over the reins" to major infrastructure transitions like this, but its benefits are hard to deny. It's an option best suited for businesses which need services "on demand."
Finding the right service provider can be a challenge, but often necessary. It's definitely worth doing your homework because the benefits brought to your company – by selecting the right IT service provider to work with – can enhance staff function, save on costs, and accelerate business growth.
These nine steps are crucial for locating the right service provider and should relieve some of the headaches that come with the hunt. Keep a healthy IT management philosophy and you'll find an option which can take your company performance to the next level.