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Business + IT Insights

Two Questions to Ask Before Exploring Your Managed IT Service Options

Posted by Dave Lazor on Thu, Jan 30, 2014

Managed IT ServicesThe term “managed IT services” is a bit of a buzzword. Since the term was coined in the last few years, a number of companies have hopped on the IT management bandwagon and call themselves “managed IT companies” or have begun offering “managed IT services.”

However, as with any business or technology trend, you shouldn’t assume that all managed IT service providers offer the same quality or range of services. In fact, these companies’ offerings vary widely, from only basic IT support to complete full-service technology consulting. 

If your company is looking to outsource its technology management, it’s best not to simply sign on with the first managed IT services provider you find. Instead, consider the following questions for your business – the answers are sure to help you find the best fit:

What are your technology needs?

First, consider what your technology needs are for today. Figuring out what your present needs are helps you determine what kind of IT support or technology consultant you’re looking for. Here are a few questions to ask about your business and its technology:

  • How do you view technology? Is it a necessary evil that you minimize costs for?
  • Do you only use technology for emails, documents, spreadsheets and basic accounting?
  • Or, do you use technology for more complex applications, like Enterprise Resource Planning, warehouse management, e-commerce or CRM?
  • What's the impact on your business if your systems are down for an hour? What about a day? A week?

With a better idea of the technology your business operations require to run in the present, you can better consider what your future needs may be. Only by weighing both present and future needs can you accurately assess the level of IT services your company will benefit from. 

Here are other factors to consider when looking ahead:

  • How do you anticipate your answers to the above questions to change over time?
  • In the next few years, are you forecasting rapid growth, or do you predict your growth will plateau?
  • Is there any new, significant technology that you'll need to integrate into any core business functions in the coming year?
  • Do you plan to expand through acquisitions? If so, how will the growth in people and systems affect your current infrastructure? Also, will they be local or international acquisitions? How will distance effect your IT needs?

Answering these questions for your particular business helps you automatically eliminate some managed IT services providers from your search. If you’re unsure about whether a company meets your needs, ask about their ability to deliver technology solutions for your business given your answers from above.

Is your business heavily dependent on technology?

Evaluating your company’s technology needs is only the first step. After you weed out managed IT services partners that don’t fit with your technology and business necessities – both past and present – you must consider the level of involvement you want from an IT management provider.

Some companies just need basic technology support and aren’t dependent on IT for their daily business, even when they plan on growing significantly. Others just want an IT support technician to show up when something breaks and nothing more. If that’s the case, there are a number of managed IT service providers to fill that need. For the most part, your options are less expensive and the company is likely to do an adequate job.

However, if your company is looking for a strategic IT partner, the field narrows greatly. Finding a true technology consultant who matches business know how with innovative technology solutions is a much more difficult task.

If you’re looking for a strategic IT consultant to partner with your business, here are a few distinguishing traits that focus your search:

  • They don't have just basic IT technicians but higher-level personnel, as well, including technology consultants who are just as business-savvy as they are IT-savvy.
  • They put their skin in the game: not just offering you a block of hours, but a fixed fee to keep everything up and running, no matter how many times you need them on-site or online.
  • They show leadership in driving discussions about your business, helping you make decisions and driving projects to completion.
  • They take a proactive and thoughtful approach to your company's IT instead of only fixing things after they break.
  • They produce a well-documented plan and a clear budget for every project.
  • They maintain open lines of communication and check-in frequently.
  • They work with every part of IT - not just one part - including people, processes, and all components of the technology itself.
  • They are familiar with both hardware and business applications, such as  ERP, CRM, warehouse management, e-commerce, other business apps and more.

Finding the right managed IT services for your business isn’t an easy task, but answering these questions about your company should narrow the search. Once you understand your company’s technology needs and the level of involvement your business requires from an IT management partner, finding the right technology consultants to fill that gap becomes a simple decision.

Click below to learn more about how Lazorpoint partners with your business to create innovative technology solutions that drive company growth with our unique PointProcess.

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Tags: business technology, it management

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