Choosing an IT company for business cooperation requires thorough preparation. It is necessary to determine what functions will be outsourced and set the goals for engaging a third-party organization. A clear understanding of what the end result should be will help to formulate the basic requirements, correctly calculate the budget and time, and understand whether an outsourcing company will be able to cope with the task.
To choose an IT support company that suits your business goals best, you need to assess candidates according to several criteria.
1. Basic information
This may sound like a cliché, but the assessment of a company should start with such parameters as years on the market and reputation. It is desirable for a vendor to have at least ten years of successful market experience and a solid portfolio. Customer reviews, ratings, and status of business partners can demonstrate the professional level of a firm as well.
2. Connection with your industry
It is recommended that you check the company’s experience in your area of business and its familiarity with the industry specifics. Are there any successful case studies, certifications, or awards for achievements in your industry? Also, it will be useful to ask the company to permit you to contact a couple of their customers, belonging to your area of business so that you can talk to them and receive feedback on the vendor.
3. Service Level Agreement (SLA)
SLA is an agreement on the level of services provided. The document must contain your requirements for the quality of IT support services, which the outsourcing company is ready to perform for the agreed price.
Particularly, the document must contain information about the timeframe for the IT company to solve the customer’s software problems (in hard numbers):
- How quickly does the support team respond to requests and problems (types of IT support tasks are divided into problems, requests for consultations, and requests for resources)?
- How quickly do requests get answered and problems get resolved?
- In what situations does the support team resolve problems right away, and in what situations does the resolution take extra time?
When studying the SLA, it is necessary to pay attention to the time during which the technical support will start troubleshooting (Time to react) and the time for resolving the problem (Time to resolve).
4. Scalability of the support team
The resource flexibility of an IT support company determines whether the support team will be able to cope with the tasks of the enterprise. It is also important to know whether the support company will be able to quickly provide additional specialists, if necessary. Practically, the need for a sharp extension/reduction of a support team arises more often than it might seem at the initial stage. An outsourcing company should not only be ready for this but also be able to cope with it in the best possible way.
5. The range of services provided (a recommended parameter)
In the course of cooperation, a need for additional services might arise. Choosing a company with a wide range of services and industries will prevent you from having to find other IT vendors for meeting new challenges.
Along with outsourced IT support, your vendor’s range of services should include:
- software development,
- mobile development,
- project management,
- business analysis,
- Cloud support,
- Data Science,
- IT security, etc.
It is essential to ask beforehand which IT services the company does not provide so that this doesn’t come as an unpleasant surprise later.
6. Contract duration (a recommended parameter)
The majority of large IT companies offer contracts for 1-3 months. The contract can always be extended, but initially, this figure is optimal in terms of mutual obligations.
7. Training and continuous improvement
Find out how things are going with respect to learning new methods within the company. Is the team improving their skills? Does the team use modern software in their work? To ensure its competitiveness, a tech company needs to not only apply the latest developments in the field of IT but also be one step ahead of competitors.
8. Individual manager
Will you be assigned to a manager whom you can contact at the specified phone number? Is the service provided in a way that is convenient for you? Does the company have a round-the-clock support service?
9. Proactive management
An IT company should not only fix software problems and malfunctions but also have proactive management. This means that the vendor will offer ways to improve your company’s products and services based on its experience, observation, and dedication to improving processes. IT support management can only be called professional if the vendor’s representative, at least, regularly meets with a client to discuss business goals and suggests more optimal ways for developing an IT product.
Proactive assistance to a client in solving their problems is a guaranteed way to strengthen relationships with them and show a vendor’s professionalism. In addition, such loyalty will bring significant financial benefits in the long term.
An IT support company must also provide reliable data protection. Cyber threats are real. Managers of the customer enterprise don’t have time to worry about viruses, malware, or hackers who can steal confidential data. Your IT vendor must use advanced security technologies that block third-party intrusion.
Viacheslav Stetsenko, IT Service Management Expert:
“Despite a large number of outsourcing IT support companies, finding the one that suits you best is not an easy task, while the wrong choice entails a number of risks or at least the loss of valuable time. Therefore, you need to clearly understand what your requirements are and what kind of company you are looking for so that the search is as efficient as possible. There is no universal recipe for how to choose an IT company, but using the criteria suggested above, you can select companies that are worth your attention. And if you are lucky and there is more return from the chosen company than you expected, this can become an impetus for the rapid development of your entire business.”