Whether you’re unhappy with your current IT support company, your business has outgrown your current provider, or are considering outsourcing your IT services needs  for the first time, it can be difficult to find a provider that fits your business’s needs. After all, every business has unique challenges when it comes to technology.

Yet, underneath apparent differences, there are a few crucial things that almost every small or medium-sized business should look for when deciding on potential IT support providers. Covering these basics will help you find a robust partner that can keep your systems running smoothly, secure your network, and fuel future business growth.

1. Look for a Proactive IT Services Provider For Your Business

If you are still paying for ITsupport as problems crop up, consider moving to an IT provider that offers proactive support instead. What does that mean, exactly?

Proactive IT providers (aka managed IT services providers, or MSPs) get paid to keep your systems running smoothly. So, rather than waiting to call in an expert when your systems are down and you’re losing time and money, you pay a managed services provider to prevent problems from happening in the first place. Managed services providers actively monitor your network for problems, fix small issues before they lead to bigger problems, and keep your systems working right.

The result is better overall productivity, less nagging problems, and more time to concentrate on what you and your team do best.

Managed IT services work best for small to medium-sized companies with 10-75 computer users and at least one onsite server. This is the point when continual monitoring and proactive support tend to be more cost-effective than simply fixing problems as they arise, which may be a fine strategy for very small businesses.

We covered the fundamentals of managed IT support in our recent post - Answers to Every Question You’ve ever had About Managed IT Services.

2. Look for an IT Support Provider that Prepares Your Business for the Worst

Statistics tell us that about 30% of companies have NO disaster recovery strategy in place. That means that if the worst happens - hacker intrusion, viruses, spyware, malware infections, server crashes, floods, fires, theft, or major storms - 1 in 3 businesses are NOT prepared to handle it. Not surprisingly, 90% of businesses without a documented disaster recovery plan go out of business within a year after a major disaster, according to a 2017 study by Touche Ross.

That’s why it is so important to work with an IT services provider that can prepare your business to face the worst circumstances and come out on top. While we won’t go into every measure that disaster recovery plans entail, here are some of the most significant:

Security Protection & Monitoring

Look for a provider who uses multiple layers of security and also offers network monitoring 24/7. Each layer of security should act as a gatekeeper, making it more difficult for hackers, viruses, and other intrusions to penetrate your network. Constant monitoring alerts your team right away when intrusions occur, minimizing the potential damage.

Backup Solutions

Your IT support provider should be fanatical about backup systems, insisting that all of your critical data is backed up securely and accurately. While many companies believe they already have a good backup system in place, the right IT services provider will test your backup system to ensure that it is running properly and actually backing up your files. Your provider should also recommend upgrades to your system to ensure you always have the best protection for your valuable data.

Disaster Recovery Planning

Any IT provider you work with should discuss disaster recovery planning with you early in the process and create a viable plan that covers multiple worst-case scenarios.

Some of these include:

  • What would I do if my building burned down and my servers and computers were destroyed?
  • How would my data be protected if there was a major disaster (flood, fire, terrorist attack, etc.)?
  • What would happen if someone broke into my office and stole our computer systems or servers?

3. Look for a Provider that Supports Future Business Growth

While making sure your systems are running right and putting viable backup systems and a disaster recovery plan in place are paramount to the productivity and health of your business, you also want an IT support provider with an eye on your future growth.

The truth is that newly emerging technologies can give your business a competitive advantage in the marketplace, when they are executed properly. However, technology changes so quickly that it’s difficult for even the most tech-savvy business owners to stay ahead of the curve.

That’s why it’s important to work with an IT provider that can help you leverage the benefits of your technology both day-to-day and into the future.

Here are just some of the ways that the right IT services provider can fuel your business growth:

Process Improvements

Whether you’d like to make it easier for employees to work from anywhere, want to streamline your online ordering system, or need a dashboard to better understand all of the data you collect on a daily basis, a skilled IT provider can help you do all of this and more.

You’ll want to start the process by making a list of “bottlenecks” that slow employee productivity or make things more difficult than they should be. That way, when you’re ready to start interviewing IT providers, you’ll be able to present your issues and get their input on possible solutions.

Planned Technology Upgrades

While your systems might be working perfectly right now, the right IT support provider is always looking ahead to ensure your business is prepared for future needs. Look for an IT provider that will work with you to create a technology roadmap to predict future technology needs and guide future purchasing decisions.

A technology roadmap will help you budget for large expenditures a little at a time and ensure you always have the right technology for your business’s needs.

Regular Meetings with Your Team

While planning for the future is great, no plan should ever be set in stone. That’s why it is so important to have regular meetings with your IT service provider to keep things on course and make adjustments as your needs change.

At Technical Action Group, we offer ongoing CIO services for all of our clients. This means we schedule regular meetings to discuss their technology needs, offer advice, and make adjustments to the plans we have in place.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into choosing the right managed IT provider for your needs. While every business will have different technology challenges, it’s important to get the basics right from the start. That means choosing a provider that proactively manages your technology to prevent problems, prepares your business for worst-case scenarios, and has an eye to the future to keep your business ahead of the technology curve.

If you are a small to midsize business in the Toronto area, Technical Action Group is here to provide the support you need to keep your business moving forward. Contact Technical Action Group today for a FREE network review!