Suggested IT Vendor List (see attachment)
Six Things to Ask Potential IT Service Providers
(1) What are your typical response times?
This should be a straight answer, not “it depends on the issue.”
Obviously, the amount of time it takes to fix something will vary
by issue, and the urgency of the issue should dictate how
quickly it’s resolved. The question is, how quickly does the
service provider respond to your request? Will it be days, within
hours or within minutes?
A “response” should be considered a knowledgeable person
discussing the issue with you. (An automated/robo response
doesn’t count). Your IT provider should have service goals in
place, because if there’s no goal there’s no hustle to attain it.
(2) What type of relationship should I expect?
That may seem like an odd question. But often the client-MSP
relationship is transactional. You pay your fees and they fix your
issues. The better question is – what type of relationship does
your business deserve?
Your IT network is critical to your business, so its operational
reliability should be a priority to your provider. Your business
deserves a proactive, strategically-aligned partner that
communicates regularly – not just when there’s a problem.
The people you interact with should care about your business
and respect your budget.
(3) Will I deal with a different person every time I call?
If you work with a large IT company, it’s very likely you will deal
with a different person each time you call. If you work with a
small company, just by employee count, you’ll end up speaking
to the same few people. The ideal situation for the customer is
an organization that assigns a small team of engineers to your
account, with back-up teams to handle overflow. This allows
each customer to have a close working relationship with a
small team that knows their business systems well, with the
capacity of the larger team when needed.
(4) When I call, will a person answer the phone, and will that person be able to help me?
There’s a difference between “live answer” and “live
support.” Either is better than talking to a robot or always
having to leave a message. With “live answer” a person
usually answers the phone, but that is not the person who
provides help. “Live support” means the person answering
can help you. If you work with a small company, you may
have to leave a message, as they won’t have enough
people to live answer their calls. Larger companies provide
live support, but you may be speaking to a different
person each time.
A good middle ground is a live support team who can
help you right away 90% of the time. For the other 10%,
they schedule a call soon after or escalate to other
(5) Will I have to speak to people outside the US?
Great question, and one you may be uncomfortable
asking. Some of your IT services can be handled offshore
quite well. But, when you get on the phone and need help
with an issue, it’s important that voice communication
be with US engineers. You should expect to receive
understandable communication with the help desk, in
clear English, using non-technical language.
(6) How much downtime is acceptable?
Clearly, zero downtime is what every customer wants, but
practically speaking, that’s not realistic. No IT company
should promise zero downtime unless you have an
enormous budget that allows for fully redundant design.
What is possible, practical, and affordable is to have
a well-designed, well-maintained system that