21 Question you need to ask before hiring an IT service provider
- Do they answer their phones live or do you always have to leave a voice mail and wait for someone to call you back?
Our phones are answered live 24 hours a day and can be reached for emergencies after-hours, including on weekends. You will never get an answering machine or leave a message waiting for a call back. Why? Because many of the CEOs and executives we support work outside normal hours and find it the most productive time they have. If they cannot access their computer network AND can't get hold of anyone to help them, it’s incredibly frustrating.
- Do they have written, guaranteed response times to your calls?
We guarantee to have a technician working on a problem within 2 hours or less of your call. This is written into every service agreement we give to our clients because its standard procedure.
- Do they take the time to explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms that you can understand (not geek-speak), or do they come across as arrogant and make you feel stupid for asking simple questions?
Our technicians are trained to have the "heart of a teacher" and will take the time to answer your questions and explain everything in simple terms.
- Do they consistently (and proactively) offer new ways to improve your network’s performance, or do they wait until you have a problem to make recommendations?
We conduct quarterly review meetings with our clients to look for new ways to help improve their operations, lower costs, increase efficiencies and resolve any problems that may be arising. Our goal with these meetings is to help our clients be more profitable, efficient and competitive.
- Do they provide detailed invoices that clearly explain what you are paying for?
We provide detailed invoices that show what work was done, why and when, so you never have to guess what you are paying for.
- Do they have adequate errors and omissions insurance as well as workers' compensation insurance to protect YOU?
Here is something to consider: if THEY cause a problem with your network that causes you to be down for hours or days or to lose data, who’s responsible? Here’s another question to consider: if one of their technicians gets hurt at your office, who’s paying? In this litigious society we live in, you better make darn sure whomever you hire is adequately insured with both errors and omissions insurance AND workers' compensation and don't be shy about asking to see their latest insurance policies!
- Do they guarantee to complete projects on time and on budget?
All projects are fixed-priced and guaranteed to be completed on time, in writing. This is important because many unethical or incompetent computer guys will only quote time and materials, which gives them free rein to nickel-and-dime you as well as take as much time as they want on completing a project.
Maintenance of Your Network
- Do they insist on remotely monitoring your network 24-7-365 to keep critical security settings, virus definitions and security patches up-to-date and PREVENT problems from turning into downtime, viruses, lost data and other issues?
Our remote network monitoring system watches over your network to constantly look for developing problems, security issues and other problems, so we can address them BEFORE they turn into bigger problems.
- Do they provide you with a monthly report that shows all the updates, security patches and the status of every machine on your network so you know for SURE your systems have been secured and updated?
Every month, our clients get a detailed report that shows an overall health score of their network and the updates to their antivirus, security settings, patches and other important network checks (like hard-drive space, backups, speed and performance, etc.).
- Is it standard procedure for them to provide you with written network documentation detailing what software licenses you own, critical passwords, user information, hardware inventory, etc., or are they the only person with the "keys to the kingdom"?
All our clients can receive this information at no additional cost. We also perform a quarterly update on this material and make sure certain key people from your organization have this information and know how to use it, giving you complete control over your network.
- Do they have other technicians on staff who are familiar with your network in case your regular technician goes on vacation or gets sick?
Since we keep detailed network documentation (Basically a blueprint of your computer network) and updates on every client’s account, any of our technicians can pick up where another one has left off.
- When they offer an All Inclusive support plans, is it TRULY all-inclusive, or are there "gotchas" hidden in the fine print?
Our All Inclusive support plan is just that, All-inclusive. One of the more popular service plans offered by consulting firms today is an all-inclusive or all-you-can-eat managed services plan. These are actually a good thing because they'll save you a lot of money in the long run HOWEVER, make sure you REALLY understand what is and isn't included. Some things to consider are:
- Is phone/e-mail help desk included or extra?
- What about network upgrades, moves or adding/ removing users?
- Is hardware and/or software included?
- What about 3rd-party software support?
- What are the costs/consequences of early cancellation?
- What if you aren't happy with their services? Do they offer a money-back guarantee?
- If the hardware and software is included, what happens if you cancel the contract?
- Are off-site backups included? To what degree?
- If you have a major disaster, is restoring your network included?
- What about on-site support calls? Or support to remote offices?
Backups and Disaster Recovery
- Do they INSIST on monitoring an off-site as well as an on-site backup, or are they letting you rely on outdated tape backups?
We make sure all of our clients have a hybrid local and cloud backup solution in order to ensure speedy recovery from any type of disaster or data loss.
- Do they insist on backing up your network BEFORE performing any type of project or upgrade?
We do; and that’s simply as a precaution in case a hardware failure or software glitch causes a major problem.
- If you were to experience a major disaster, do they have a written plan for how your data could be restored FAST and/or one that enables you to work from a remote location?
All clients receive a simple disaster recovery plan for their data and network. We encourage them to do a full disaster recovery plan for their office, but at a minimum, their network will be covered should something happen.
Technical Expertise and Support
- Is their help desk local or outsourced to an overseas company or third party?
We provide our own in-house help desk and make sure the folks helping you are friendly and helpful. We consider this one of the most important aspects of customer service, plus we feel it’s important for keeping your data secure.
- Do their technicians maintain current vendor certifications and participate in ongoing training or are they learning on your dime?
Our technicians are required to keep the most up-to-date vendor certifications in all the software and hardware we support.
- Do their technicians arrive on time and dress professionally?
Our technicians are true professionals that you would be proud to have in your office. They dress professionally, show up on time, and if they cannot (for some odd, unforeseen reason), we always notify the client immediately. We believe these are minimum requirements for delivering a professional service.
- Are they familiar with (and can they support) your unique line-of-business applications?
We own the problems with all line-of-business applications for our clients. That doesn't mean we can fix faulty software, but we WILL be the liaison between you and your technology vendors to resolve problems you are having and make sure these applications work smoothly for you.
- When something goes wrong with your Internet service, phone systems, printers or other IT services, do they own the problem or point the finger?
We feel WE should own the problem for our clients, so they don't have to try to resolve any of these issues on their own that’s just plain old good service and something many computers guys won't do.