managed IT servicesSearching for the best managed IT (information technology) services for your business is hard work.  There are lots of questions to ask to make sure you’re getting the best fit for you.  There are likely many managed IT companies near you, but how can you be sure you’re choosing the best one for your business?

To begin with, ask yourself why are you searching for managed IT services.  It could be your business is growing, and your IT function doesn’t work for the size of your business.  Maybe you have an in-house person, but there’s more work for them than they have time for.  If you already have managed IT, are they truly fulfilling your company’s needs?  Or maybe you don’t feel like you are getting the most up-to-date software and service.  No matter the reason, it’s important to know why you need managed IT services so you can ensure you select a provider who will help you meet your business goals and objectives and provide the technical support you need.

Now that you know why, what should you be looking for in a managed IT services provider?  There are a plethora of managed IT providers, and they all provide a menu of services.  Ultimately, you will want a managed IT provider who will customize a plan based on the needs of your business.  You will want a provider who will do a needs assessment on your IT environment and then provide recommendations and costs to get you where you need to be.  The provider should also give you a technology road map.  A technology road map will plan out your business’s IT needs for the next one, three and five years, and how working with them will get your business to your goals. Here are some of the items you will also need to look for in an IT provider.

  • Security.  All businesses need data security.  In today’s cybersecurity climate, it’s a matter of when and not if a business will be fall victim to a data breach.  Knowing that your business is protected provides the security you need for peace of mind.  This could involve network management, email security, antivirus security and more.  With the constantly changing threats to business security, it’s imperative that your managed IT services provider has your business covered for cyber attacks.
  • Environment Monitoring.  Your managed IT services provider should be able to offer you detailed reporting of your IT environment.  Reporting shows you the applications and staff that are using the majority of your resources as well as the demand placed on your technology. Performance monitoring will also provide information on traffic bottlenecks and peak periods of use.  This will allow your provider to deploy additional assets quickly if necessary.
  • Reliability. When it comes to managed IT services, knowing your provider can give you the service you need is critical. All businesses rely on network infrastructure, email and digital documents to get their goals accomplished.  What happens if you lose access to that information?  A managed IT services provider can ensure you can get back up and running quickly with an effective data backup program. With both onsite and cloud based systems, you can feel comfortable knowing your data is backed up on a regular basis and there is a plan in place in case of disaster.
  • Quick response.  The entire purpose of outsourcing your IT needs to a managed IT services provider is to have a qualified and knowledgeable help desk when problems come up.  Most often, a good managed IT services provider can fix issues remotely without having to wait for onsite support.  Through their network monitoring, they can also identify problems before they become issues and fix them before an incident occurs. With this proactive approach, you can be sure your IT environment is healthy and strong.  And should an issue come up, you can feel comfortable knowing it will be fixed quickly with little impact to your business.

Take time as you research your options to ask questions.  While websites can provide you a lot of information, face-to-face meetings will give you a true feel for the services that you can expect.  Also be sure to review any service level agreements provided to you BEFORE you sign on for managed IT services.  You will want to know what sort of timelines are in place and how quickly you can expect resolution to issues.  You will also want to ask what type of recourse you have if the provider does not consistently meet the expectations of the service level agreement.

So whether you’ve just started your search for a managed IT services provider or you’re ready to make a decision today, it is critical to focus on the qualities each provider can give to your business.  You know your business and the goals you need to accomplish, and it’s important to make sure that your managed IT services provider fits with those goals.  Most importantly, with your IT managed by a qualified professional, you and your staff can focus on what matters most to you – the success of your business.