Guide to Outsourcing IT Services for a Small Business
Any company that hopes to survive in a fiercely competitive business world must adapt to the changing technological advances. Technology changes the way an organization functions, especially in sales and marketing. Having the proper IT systems in place is usually an uphill task if you don’t have the expertise and resources. Your internal IT team might not have a wide range of skills to oversee all the functions of your company.
Partnering with IT Service Providers
This is when you must consider working with managed IT service providers. This seems like a costly expense for most small businesses, but it comes with many benefits. A professional IT support provider will manage the network, services, users, and devices, all of which are integral to your company’s operations. The service provider ensures your systems are current and that the technology in use provides seamless operations across all roles and departments in your company.
Outsourcing your IT function is a reliable way to meet strategic objectives that make your company prosper. IT service providers bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise that enhance your company’s productivity. It also gives you peace of mind to know that you have a team to protect your systems against cybersecurity crimes.
However, before you partner with any IT services provider, you need to evaluate their capabilities. They must have the capacity to meet your company’s IT needs at a cost that makes sense to your business. Consider the following criteria before signing any contract.
Resources and Technology
When you outsource IT services, you want the assurance that your partner has the tools and technologies to meet your business IT needs. Ask them about the specific technologies they will bring to your firm and how they apply to your industry.
You also must find out if they have the resources to handle all of your assignments. Do they have a team in place that will deploy the various IT functions you are outsourcing? Check if the service provider has an office with up-to-date systems to handle the most complex functions you want to outsource.
Outsourcing IT services should not come as an additional business expense. It should instead help you reduce the operational costs by improving your business bottom lines. If you don’t see how the outsourced company will help you reduce costs, you’ll probably end up spending more than you will save.
Figuring out where you’re headed with the costs of outsourcing IT services doesn’t require an expert analyst. All you have to consider is whether the outsourced services will help eliminate the costs of hiring a full-time internal IT team and buying IT equipment. At the same time, the cost of outsourcing should give you value for your investment by giving you the quality and quantity of the services worth the expense. In other words, gauge what you stand to gain from outsourcing compared to hiring an internal team.
Outsourcing provides the benefit of corporate agility if your company doesn’t have an internal pool of talent to complete specific projects. Sometimes you may also be short of time to handle urgent projects or assignments. When you outsource, the IT provider brings a team that is committed to seeing you succeed in your projects. Their intellectual capital becomes an asset to your company. Besides, third-part IT teams are usually trained all around in various technical aspects. Check to see that the IT provider you choose has the intellectual capacity to quickly jump onto any technical projects and complete them in time.
Outsourcing can present unique challenges for any business. One challenge comes from the fact that the company you outsource can be in an off-shore location. These time-zone differences can cause communication barriers.
The company’s work ethics may also differ from yours, meaning its communication values may not be compatible with yours. If you want to get the most out of the partnership, you must create a communication plan, which incorporates your day-to-day communication strategy. It should spell out the following:
- Communication expectations: let your IT provider know the kind and frequency of communication you expect. Decide whether you want updates on every aspect of their services or you only want information about the significant issues concerning ongoing projects.
- Communication breakdown: you could capture this in a list, calling tree, or escalation flow chart. The IT team may have to communicate with different people in your organization depending on the need at hand. Ensure this is itemized and is as detailed as possible to cut down on wasted transfer times. It works both ways and should therefore be as specific as possible, specifying who should communicate to who and when.
- Communication methods: this doesn’t only refer to emails, phone calls, and service tickets. It is also about the presentation of work summaries, post-meeting recaps, among others. Pick the most efficient communication methods for your business and set a schedule when you need them to be done.
The Contents of the Contract Agreement
It’s advisable to compare service agreements from different providers before settling for any company. While the contracts have similar contents, every company has a different approach to getting results. Here’s a list of things each contract should outline and make clear:
- The kind of services the company will provide to you and the parameters of each
- The response time, availability, and reliability: You need to know whom to call when the contact person is unavailable. The contract should define the amount of time it takes the company to provide feedback after you create a ticket
- Expectations for proactive system maintenance procedures need to be put in writing. It’s also crucial that the contract specifies the best practice standards, including regularity of maintenance.
- The onboarding process differs from one company to another, and it’s essential to have this in writing.
- Minimum standards of quality for services offered, and escalation procedures must also be defined.
If you have any questions regarding any part of the contract agreement, be sure to ask. A reliable and trustworthy managed IT services company will be more than willing to provide further details. This will help you to make the right decision.
If you want to thrive in your IT department, outsourcing all or some services to a reliable and reputable IT service provider is inevitable. However, you must not approach the process blindly. Several factors come into play in finding a trustworthy IT partner.
The search can be long and challenging, but partnering with Mainstreet IT Solutions can bring your search to an end. Contact us today to book a free consultation and find out how we can help your business thrive in IT.