6 Steps to Finding The Right Professional IT Services Partner

In today’s technology landscape, the days of DIY IT departments are long gone. No IT department can singlehandedly juggle the myriad challenges involved in managing a company’s IT needs. From security concerns to cloud transitions to mobility, it’s simply too much for an in-house IT department to keep up. The challenge is finding the right technology partner.

Anyone who has ever embarked on any large-scale technology project can tell you: it’s hard to find skilled, reliable help! That professional IT services firm that seemed so organized, qualified and efficient? Now, months into your integration, project managers have disappeared, engineers aren’t responding and forget getting your account manager on the phone! You’re left wishing you had checked references more thoroughly or done better research. Ineffectual service companies are not limited to the technology industry—they’re everywhere. We all want the same goal: to avoid wasted time and money.

So, how do you choose the right technology partner with professional IT services that fit your needs? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you go through the selection process.

  • Get all your ducks in a row.
    Before you even start looking for a professional IT services partner you need a crystal-clear idea of the project, its scope, the end goals, and what success looks like. Get your key stakeholders together to weigh in on this and create a plan with clear objectives and goals recorded. Revise and refine the scope until it is exactly what you want. The more detailed you can be, the better. You’ll need all this information later, when you are selecting a partner.
  • Ask around.
    Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools around. Ask colleagues at firms with similar challenges who they used. A reference from a colleague that you know and respect is often revealing. Next, reach out to manufacturers of the products you are hoping to implement for example, HPE, Commvault or Veeam. This will reveal who their most trusted integrators are and who they feel know the technology best. Dive deeper! Was the work completed on time and on (or under) budget? Did they provide a timeline and stick to it? How was their customer support? Attentive? Consistent?
  • Don’t be swayed by price.
    Price is rarely a good indicator of performance. You’re not looking for the cheapest deal. You want quality and you want value which usually leaves you somewhere in the middle of the pack for price. Watch out for the highest bid, which may indicate an inflated staff and extra bureaucratic red tape. Beware of the lowest bid, which may indicate a lack of experience or a limited skill set.
  • Research. Research.
    Consider conducting a vendor assessment to identify whether a vendor’s skills, customer service, and experience match your needs. Find anything you can about the company. How long has it been around? Is it financially stable? This is not the time to hire a newbie. Follow up on their references and case studies. Check up on their certifications and technical knowledge. Do they have the staff to handle the project? How often do they renew their certifications? Are they familiar with your industry’s particulars such as compliance or legal issues? A vendor assessment can also give insight into the larger IT environment and how particular vendors fit into it.
  • Pay attention.
    In the selection process, a good, professional IT services firm should be asking YOU questions. These questions can reveal how knowledgeable they are about your industry, your project and how well they have done their homework. Do they understand your business needs and goals? Did they even bother to ask? Are they looking to map technology to your goals or wedge in the technology they want to sell? This is where that document in #1 comes in. If/when an integrator asks, you’ll have all the specifics of your project at the ready.
  • Ask about support services and a warranty
    A true partner will walk you through the entire process, with support staff ready to jump onboard if necessary. A solid support contract can be an added protection and a bit of a confidence boost. If a company doesn’t believe in their product and services enough to offer a full solution, that should be a red flag.

Finding the right integrator is a task that requires time and dedication. Prepare. Research. Ask the right questions. It really boils down to how much due diligence you are willing to do? Can you really afford NOT to do your homework? In the end, the reward—a true technology partner—makes it worth the effort.

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