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How to Choose the Right Managed IT Provider for Your SMB

When it comes to your IT costs, you can save significantly by choosing outsourced providers. You won’t have to provide benefits, education and training to an in-house tech team and you’ll have more skills at your fingertips by taking advantage of a larger team of professionals.

You need to know how to choose the right outsourced IT provider before you can gain these benefits. Before making a decision, get to know the company. Here are some things you’ll want to consider when choosing a provider:

  • Experience in your industry: Each business has its own trends, technology, legal requirements and customer base to consider. It’s not just about the technology. Your IT workers need to understand the details and requirements of your industry as well as your values and vision for the future. If you want, you can ask for employee resumes and references from satisfied customers within your line of work.
  • Positive attitude: You don’t necessarily need to write a company off if they haven’t had a lot of experience in your industry. If they seem willing to learn, they could still be the right fit for the position. They should ask questions about your specific software, devices, operating systems, antivirus tools and email host. Make sure they understandably explain everything instead of talking in buzzwords. Customer service is as important as a good resume.
  • Training: Look for certifications in the right hardware and software depending on the products most used by your business. You’ll save money if they know how to do the job right, because your company will have less downtime and you’ll pay for fewer billable hours. The Managed Service Provider (MSP) should keep up-to-date on their industry and offer you a variety of brand options — be wary of companies who push a certain brand without explanation.
  • Services: Find out about their repair services and timeframes, response time and availability. They should offer monthly or quarterly check-ins, so find out what information you can expect during those meetings. They should also provide preventative services like data backup and threat monitoring. The most expensive services don’t always mean the best — they should show understanding that the amount of protection you need depends on the type of business you run.
  • Availability: You’ll want a company that can offer 24/7/365 support to help you in emergencies no matter when they occur. Ask about their response time and remote monitoring and make sure they have enough employees that your needs can be met in a timely manner anytime they arise. Find a company with remote capabilities as well as onsite support for equipment maintenance. Find out how you can get updates and who you can talk to for any questions or information requests.
  • Agreeable terms: Some managed service providers will offer month-to-month options while others want a year-long or multi-year contract. Make sure their terms match what you are looking for and that the company takes your budget and financing into account. Find out when you’ll pay and what is included in the price.

The most important quality to consider when choosing an IT service provider is whether you trust them. They should never suggest anything illegal, and if they immediately want to sell you top-of-the-line, unnecessary products, be wary.

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