Happy week-before-Thanksgiving! In the world of IT services here in Washington DC, it’s a busy time of year. Business owners & managers are trying to close out projects before the holidays and IT service providers are wrapping up end-of-year capital projects for clients. Then comes January: The turn of the new year marks the beginning of “buying season”. From January to May of every year, we typically add dozens of new client accounts here at Qualatech. Something about the turn of a calendar page makes all of us want for improvements. Maybe you’re growing tired of slow responses or less than stellar techs?
Unfortunately, IT services are not immune from faults and the New Year is a great time to make the leap to a new vendor if the situation warrants. Along those lines, today I want to share 5 things you should do today if you’re planning to purchase IT services next year.
#1 Identify Your Needs
Depending on the size of your firm, this could range from ad-hoc desktop support to full or part-time onsite support. Most established businesses have a good idea of their IT service needs. If you’re business is just getting off the ground or is rapidly expanding (and who’s isn’t these days), I would suggest a “start small” strategy. It’s not uncommon for me to hear about businesses that get locked in to a larger-than-needed service agreement only to find out that heavy fees are required to terminate the contract. If you start small and buy more as your business warrants, you’ll avoid fees and save some of those precious overhead dollars along the way.
#2 Identify At Least Two Providers
Sounds obvious but you would be floored if you knew just how many folks buy from Qualatech without shopping around. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Qualatech’s services more than anyone; however, I’m also a believer that not every business is a good fit for any business. Before you reach out to an IT service company, do a little shopping around. Review their website and service offerings and ask friends for referrals. You can’t go wrong by comparing service companies to each other and then asking them to compete for your business.
#3 Get Your System Documentation Together
Your current IT service company should have this at their fingertips at all times and should be able to deliver it with a days notice. If not, it’s a sign that it might be out-dated or worse, that your network is not documented. System documentation is one of the most important aspects in making a smooth transition to a new IT service company. Ask for it in advance and you will save yourself some time & money during the transition.
#4 Wrap Up Open Tech Issues
It’s always best to transition IT service companies without being part-way through an upgrade, IT roll-out or project. Valuable time and money can be lost if you transition in the middle of a project where there isn’t a thorough knowledge transfer or hand-off. Make a short list of any open tech items and have your current IT service company get to work. Ask them to be finished by 3rd week of December and to keep you updated along the way. You can pull the trigger on a transition after the work is completed.
#5 Communicate To Your Staff
Not only will this let them know that a vendor change is imminent, it will also give you data to aid your search for future IT service firms. I’m a big fan of the Keep, Stop, Start questions. Ask the staff what should we Keep Doing with regard to IT support. What should we Stop Doing? What should we Start doing? Take the answers to these questions with you when you’re beginning the screening process and you’ll have a much easier time making sure the new IT service company is a good fit.
While the tips above are not rocket science, they should help guide you through preparation to shop IT services. The best advice I can offer is to take your time and look for personality matches. It’s the IT service company’s responsibility to screen for technical ability…it’s your responsibility to screen for personality fit with your company.