17 Critical Questions You MUST Ask Before Hiring Any IT Company
Every business owner wants their company to succeed, grow and prosper. Information technology can help you do this. But some businesses are still relying solely on in-house IT support or substandard IT consultants. Technology and security should be leveraged as a strategic advantage for your business!
Technology is changing faster than some in-house IT staffs can handle. Even large enterprises are realizing they it is more effective to manage with a technology partner.
That’s why smart business owners are outsourcing their technology and cybersecurity service and support to Managed IT Service Providers (MSPs). Much like outsourcing legal, HR, and payroll services, Managed IT Services will save you money and provide the expertise and support you need.
What Is A Managed Service Provider?
An MSP is a company that manages your IT infrastructure and applications. Service and support are typically contracted through a subscription-based model that’s affordable and customizable.
MSPs use a proactive approach to IT to prevent downtime and problems rather than waiting to fix something after it breaks.
An MSP can be your fully outsourced IT department or supplement your in-house IT staff. An MSP’s IT resources and expertise are maintained at their expense, not yours.
Why Do You Need An MSP?
- There’s a scarcity of IT talent and expertise. We aren’t training enough technology and cybersecurity professionals today. Expertise will increasingly be in demand.
- Limited in-house IT staff can have a hard time keeping up with technological innovations that you need to compete.
- Cost savings increase when you outsource your IT needs.
- Most business owners don’t know what an internal IT staff does, so how can they manage them?
- Outsourcing IT Services can be written off on your taxes as an operating expense. With in-house, IT support you have to purchase all the tools, hardware and software to manage IT. These are capital expenditures that you must depreciate over time.
- Time and efficiency increase. When outsourcing your IT to an MSP, you don’t need to worry about technology, and you can focus on your business.
What Does A Managed Service Provider or Managed Security Service Provider Do?
Managed service providers are experts in information technology. And Managed security service providers (MSSP) are experts in cybersecurity management. Your MSP/MSSP will work to proactively prevent IT-related and security-related problems. They can do this remotely and by visiting you onsite. They will also repair things right away when they go wrong and determine the core issue for the problem, so it won’t reoccur.
The right MSP will identify the best way for you to use technology to achieve your goals. They will develop a customized IT plan with the solutions and services you need to achieve your vision.
Think of your MSP as a business partner who will help you develop an IT strategy that aligns with your goals and budget. They employ subject matter experts with an understanding of your industry to achieve the business outcomes you’re looking for.
With a Managed Service Provider, you get the advantages of a fully-staffed IT department without the burden of having to pay for or manage one.
Ask Yourself These 7 Questions
1. Are You Getting Limited IT Service & Support from Your In-house Staff or Independent Consultant?
IT departments are typically understaffed due to budget constraints. They may be able to keep up with day-to-day troubleshooting but won’t necessarily have the time or expertise to make plans for the future to reach your company’s long-term goals.
When IT teams are overwhelmed, errors occur due to gaps in processes. And when errors occur, your business is vulnerable to security breaches.
Hackers target small and mid-sized businesses. They wait for security patches to be released. They look for IT systems that haven’t been patched quickly so they can get in and spread malicious viruses that lock up or steal your data.
Information technology is continuously evolving, and it’s easy for a limited staff to fall behind. They may struggle to stay on top of current IT and solutions coming down the road.
Your Managed Service Provider provides all the service and support you need, with the up-to-date expertise to mitigate security threats and develop an IT strategy to ensure you’re ready for the future.
2. Are You Spending Too Much Employing IT Staff?
Just Do The Math:
The annual compensation for a single IT engineer can average over $125K including benefits and overhead.
When you compare this to the average $15,000 to $75,000 a year that most organizations pay for outsourced managed IT services, hiring an individual tech or a staff of technology engineers is a very expensive way to obtain IT support.
3. Do You Have Recurring Technology Issues?
Are you experiencing frequent downtime, viruses, or other issues with your hardware or software? If so, it’s likely that you’re losing profits and productivity.
When it comes to hardware and software, it’s no secret that it’s not a matter of “if” it will break, but “when.” Unfortunately, when it does break, a simple reboot isn’t going to fix it. If you don’t have the necessary resources on hand to replace and repair the IT solutions, you’re looking at a loss in productivity – and, depending on what goes down and the length of downtime this could put a strain on your customer relationships, and your finances.
With a quality MSP partner, you can improve your overall productivity and profits with reliable running technology that is proactively monitored and managed. You can sleep well at night knowing that you have a team of experts monitoring your technology 24/7 to prevent reliability and security issues.
MSPs have an incentive to prevent your IT infrastructure from breaking. You pay them a fixed monthly fee for reliable, secure running technology.
4. What Happens When Your IT Staff Can’t Keep Up?
- Users don’t get their questions and issues addressed.
- Lagging virus patches and updates expose your business to security breaches.
- You fall behind your competitors without the up-to-date technology you need to compete.
- They don’t have the time or expertise needed to take on new projects.
- You won’t have a plan for the future.
5. Is IT Budgeting Out Of Control?
Are you always being hit with IT surprises that you didn’t plan for? Not only can these be expensive, they usually come when you need your cash for other projects.
New computers, software and servers can be costly. Plus, with the fast-pace of technology changes, few IT solutions last longer than a few years.
Your MSP can provide options like Hardware-as-a-Service and Software-as-a-Service (even Security-as-a-Service) to ensure you always have what you need for a fixed, monthly user-based fee. You’ll never be hit with IT expenses you didn’t plan for. You can easily budget your IT costs and scale services as your requirements change.
6. Do You Have An IT Roadmap For The Future?
- Do you have a plan that’s aligned with your company’s financial and operational goals?
- What technology do you need?
- Will you need new computers, email systems, firewalls, or servers?
- And if you do, which one(s) do you need right now, which ones can wait until later?
Your MSP can provide the answers you need with virtual CIO services. He’ll help you determine what steps you need to take to ensure your IT infrastructure meets the needs of today while planning for growth tomorrow.
7. How Do You Know If Your Technology Vendors Are Fulfilling Their Promises?
- Are you getting the most value for your money on contracts?
- Are you purchasing products that will be obsolete in a few years?
- Are deliverables being met?
- Are you getting the quality service you deserve?
Your MSP can act as a liaison between your business and IT vendors to ensure you’re getting the maximum value for the money you spend.
Who on your existing IT team is managing vendor relationships? Anyone?
The 7 Benefits Of Using Our Managed IT Services
BENEFIT 1 – Save Time & Worries
Without the worry of trying to manage technology in-house, you’ll have the time and energy to focus on your business knowing that your IT will always be there for you when you need it.
BENEFIT 2 – Predictable Costs & Decreased Capital Expenditures
With us managing and monitoring your network you’ll pay a predictable monthly fee without expending capital that you need for essential projects and investments. Plus, you won’t have to worry about IT surprises. Your customized IT plan will include everything you require. If you need to scale up or down on services, we can do that for you too.
BENEFIT 3 – Technology Will Always Be Up To Date
With us as your MSP, you’ll have a team of experts in place, and at your service, so you’ll never fall behind the technology curve.
BENEFIT 4 – The Connections You Need
We have relationships and partnerships with a variety of technology software and hardware suppliers. These relationships often include training and insights into how to best apply the technology in business situations. Your business will benefit from our training. And with our partnerships and procurement services, you’ll also benefit from the most cost-effective IT solutions.
BENEFIT 5 – CIO Services
You may see this mentioned as vCIO Services (virtual CIO). Our CIO can work alongside your staff, or you can use his services on a supplementary basis. You’ll always have the technology you need to achieve your goals and solve your business challenges.
BENEFIT 6 – Around-the-Clock 24 X 7 Remote Monitoring and Management
Partnering with us means that your IT system will be monitored and maintained even when your IT staff is home sleeping or on vacation. We never take a day off or leave you without the service and support you require. And IT issues are dealt with as they occur before they turn into major problems.
BENEFIT 7 – Secure IT
With Remote Management & Monitoring, and our Cybersecurity Services, we can detect and eradicate security threats before they infect your systems. And with regular Risk Assessments, we’ll ensure there are no gaps in your IT security. With the average cost of a data breach at $7.35 Million and 60 percent of small and midsized companies going out of business after a security breach, using our MSP services will not only save you from legal and regulatory fines but may save the existence of your business.
Critical Questions You MUST Ask Before Hiring Any IT Company
If your current support person/company does not score a “yes” on every point, you could be paying for substandard support, wide open to a very expensive (and very frustrating) computer disaster, or worse yet, putting your data as well as your client’s data at risk:
- Do they answer their phones and respond to support issues in 4 hours or less – even after regular business hours?
- Are they proactively monitoring your network 24-7-365 to keep critical security settings, virus definitions, and security patches up-to-date?
- Do they insist on monitoring an offsite as well as an onsite backup (Backup Rule of 3-2-1), or are they letting you rely on outdated tape backups?
- Do they insist on doing periodic test restores of your backups to make sure the data is not corrupt and could be restored in the event of a disaster?
- Have they provided you with written network documentation detailing what software licenses you have, critical network passwords, and hardware information, or are they the only person with the “keys to the kingdom?”
- Do they consistently (and proactively) offer new ways to improve your network’s performance, or do they wait until you have a problem to make recommendations?
- Do they provide detailed invoices that clearly explain what you are paying for?
- Do they explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms that you can understand?
- Do they complete projects on time and on budget, or does every project end up taking longer and costing more than you expected?
- Do they arrive on time and dress professionally?
- Do they have other technicians on staff that are familiar with your network in case your regular technician goes on vacation or gets sick?
- Do their technicians maintain current vendor certifications and participate in ongoing training, or do you feel as though they are learning on your dime?
- Do they take calls from other clients while working on your network?
- Do you have to manage their progress on projects, or do they provide frequent updates, status reports, and follow-up calls and e-mails?
- Do they offer flat-rate or fixed-fee project quotes, or do they give themselves a wide-open playing field with “time and materials” for the basics?
- Do they offer “Not to Exceed” on projects or do you have to wait until the end of the project to find out what it is going to cost you?
- Do they know the compliance burdens your business operates under such as HIPAA, GLBA, FINRA, SOX, GDPR?
If your current IT support person/company didn’t answer “yes” to ALL of these questions, then you need to start looking at another company to help support your IT needs. There are local IT companies that can actually answer “yes” to all of these questions and provide you with IT support at a fraction of what you are paying today.
Isn’t It Time To Let The Experts Manage Your IT?
Consider partnering with Nashville-based KTG to handle your IT and cybersecurity services, in whole or in part.
Schedule a no-obligation, customized IT Assessment and learn if Managed IT Services are right for you.
Brian Gray, MCP, is the President at Kraft Technology Group, LLC (KTG), an affiliate of KraftCPAs PLLC. Within his role, Brian is responsible for all aspects of service delivery to our clients. Brian has a decade of experience working for managed service providers. He has worked with clients in a variety of industries, including financial services, accounting, legal, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.