What to Look for and What to Avoid When Choosing an IT Vendor
For many businesses, partnering with a new IT vendor brings efficiency and access to greater knowledge and resources, often cutting costs, too. That’s why investment in IT outsourcing has doubled in recent years.
However, to make the most of any outsourcing opportunity, businesses must work with a provider that understands their needs and is committed to delivering personalized service.
The right vendor doesn’t just tick the boxes but goes the extra mile to identify the boxes which need ticking, too.
Meeting your needs
These days, a minor IT error can see entire businesses brought to their knees, with employees unable to perform their roles and customers and clients left without service. Research suggests IT downtime costs businesses £3.6 million a year in lost productivity, with large businesses losing up to £258,000 per hour while systems are down.
So, it is crucial businesses have access to professionals who understand their IT environment and have the knowledge and capacity to fix bugs immediately and minimize this downtime.
Those outsourcing IT to a provider are keen to replicate the experience of running IT in-house as closely as possible – in speed and responsiveness.
While businesses may have to compromise slightly on immediacy compared with hiring an internal team, it is important vendors offer a level of speed and flexibility to respond to issues. They need to act as an extension to the business, not just a third-party.
Choosing a provider that offers greater flexibility may represent a more significant investment but it is a small price to pay compared with the cost of waiting hours or even days for them to fix issues.
However, adaptability is not just desirable in a crisis. IT updates and digital transformation of ten mean accepting downtime to key systems while they are rolled out.
Working with businesses that offer flexibility in contract options and operating hours means you can call on them for support as needed – without worrying about using up a retainer early in the month – and implement IT updates outside of business hours to minimize disruption.
Clear communication with IT Vendor
Communication is key to a successful partnership with any IT vendor.
Businesses are constantly moving the needle and setting new targets and those delivering the work need to be on board – and vice versa – when it comes to managing expectations and agreeing on deliverables.
Thankfully, when it comes to on-boarding a provider, recognizing challenges in communication in the pitching stage can alert businesses before signing the contract.
When agreeing with potential vendors, those who take an unreasonably long time to respond or conduct themselves unprofessionally in the proposal stage – when they’re trying to win business – are unlikely to raise their standards once they’ve secured the retainer.
Transparency is also important in setting timelines and KPIs. Providers may try to sell the world to put themselves in front of their competitors, but this is ultimately unhelpful when they fail to reach their targets down the line.
Those able to outline ambitious but realistic targets make the most successful long-term partners – pushing the boundaries and innovating the IT environment while keeping their feet on the ground in terms of budgets and project timings.
For many businesses, a local presence is also valued. Not only is proximity convenient in arranging monthly or quarterly catch-ups but it is also helpful for those looking to regularly welcome their IT professional into the office.
This can boost efficiency when it comes to working through complex collaborative projects.
Keeping you compliant
IT is often viewed as simply an enabler of speed and efficiency, but the reality is ,it opens businesses up to as many challenges as it solves. Laying the foundations for an IT transformation project means you are committing to complex data security and compliance tasks.
As businesses continue to move operations online, they are exposed to more points of attack, with criminals looking to steal valuable information and cause damaging downtime. UK businesses lose almost £3 million per year as a result of data breaches alone – not to mention the cost of fines for failing to comply with data regulations.
However, while changing data regulations and innovative cyberattacks pose a complicated and time-consuming challenge for internal IT teams or directors, specialist providers make light work of dealing with them.
Outsourcing to a dedicated team of specialist IT directors saves on the time and cost of tackling these tasks in-house. It simply requires a level of trust between the business and the IT vendor.
When reviewing potential providers, request case studies and testimonials from the existing clients. Additionally, requesting a single dedicated IT director to manage the account gives businesses the consistency and trust needed to drive a successful long-term partnership.
Traditionally, businesses sought IT support on a short-term basis, when specific issues arose – like a crashed system or malware attack.
Once the project was completed, the businesses parted ways.
However, modern businesses are recognizing the rewards on offer for partnering with a provider long-term. Not only does outsourcing IT give businesses direct access to a whole team of dedicated professionals – with the ability to scale these resources as needed – but they can lean on them to complete innovative and forward-thinking projects.
Those who were previously limited to small internal IT teams or even a single IT manager due to budget restrictions are now equipped to go toe-to-toe with their larger competitors.
IT providers work with businesses to deliver transformative projects like complete IT audits, migrating to new cloud systems and designing a comprehensive IT roadmap for future success.
Set aside time in the discovery call to discuss future planning and progression, including asking each vendor how they benchmark success and how often they review the IT environment for weaknesses and potential improvements.