Choosing an information technology (IT) services provider is a lot like purchasing a car. Some buyers look for how much glitz and glam is included, and others just want something that takes them from point A to point B.
While there isn’t a right or wrong answer to the type of car you choose, when it comes to IT services, the choice always matters. While shiny add-ons are a nice touch, there are certain core capabilities that the success or failure of your business hinges upon. AKA, the secret formula. In today’s digital world, the cold hard reality is that businesses rely on technology to perform like it’s supposed to, when it’s supposed to.
Below are 8 tips to choosing the right IT services based on our years of experience as an IT service provider in the oil and gas industry.
1. Do They Offer Executive Advisory Services?
Whether in-house or outsourced, IT services don’t work unless everyone — from interns to the Chief Executive Officer — is on board and informed how IT services can help them out. In other words, your IT services provider should be so good that they could theoretically sit in as your company’s Chief Information and/or Technology Officer.
The IT service provider must have a macro view of the business and how IT strategy plans into supporting the goals of the business. They must also not be afraid to get down in the trenches, editing code, tweaking appliances, and performing routine diagnostics. They must be effective at communicating with stakeholders and end-users and be willing to take the company in an entirely new direction.
When choosing an IT services provider, ask questions like:
- Describe your experience dealing with highly seated executives.
- Do you know how to budget for hardware and software?
- Describe your experience working with other vendors.
- What’s your plan to reduce costs for the organization?
These are the questions any Chief Technology Officer (CTO) would expect IT service providers to know.
2. Do They Offer Device, Server, and Backup Management?
IT services aren’t a one-and-done type of deal. In fact, to deliver and keep delivering the same great services that were promised to you, your IT department must perform regular diagnostics and maintain your devices and servers if you want to have a smooth experience, both internally and externally with customers and clients.
Device, server, and backup management are no longer optional packages that are tacked on or treated as luxury items; they’re now required services that any managed services provider should be offering as a standard.
Questions you should be asking your IT services company include:
- How will you determine my current device, serve, and backup needs?
- How can you ensure my server is secure and maintained?
- Do you offer cloud computing?
- What’s the process of maintaining my server and devices?
- Are these standard service offerings or do they cost extra?
3. Do They Configure Your Database for You?
Good quality products bring value to the customer and to the company. The same can be said for your database, a centralized place that stores and manages all of your customer data, inventory, sales, and marketing activities.
Without any one of those key pieces of data, you’re running a business with a huge portion of data to back up what you’re actually doing. In other words, you’re lost — and so is your money.
Not only that, but your data must also be secure. And that’s where the job of an IT services provider comes in. Ask yours:
- What’s your backup maintenance strategy?
- What happens if the data for some odd reason gets lost?
- How often do they maintain your database?
- What is their maintenance package consist of?
4. Do They Offer Robust Cybersecurity Services?
By robust, we mean how far beyond common threats and viruses does your IT services go to protect your business? Effective cybersecurity — the kind that actually keeps your business out of harm’s way — is more than just installing antivirus software and having a firewall.
When choosing your IT services provider, they should be providing many, if not all, of these cybersecurity strategies and tactics to your business:
- Research the cybersecurity measures for your company’s industry
- Build network security standards
- Establish a cloud presence
- Manage the IT life cycle so you enjoy added speed and agility
- Implement advanced cybersecurity training awareness programs
- Scan both your internal and external environments
- Analyze high- and low-impact risk areas for your company
- Create proactive measures and processes
- Collect data from firewalls
- Monitor wireless access points
- Formulate an incident response plan
And if they’re not, it might be time to start looking for a new provider.
5. Do They Manage Your Applications for You?
Applications aren’t static; they’re living, breathing digital entities that needs to be cared for. Applications, such as Office 365, are being constantly updated. And if you can’t remember the last time yours has been updated, then it’s time you seek your IT services provider.
Additionally, applications tend to get replaced with more sophisticated technology. And oftentimes, people aren’t aware of the new technology or improvements that are out there. You may be paying for 20 applications but really only utilizing a handful of programs to their fullest. IT service providers help save businesses money by consolidating their applications so that they only pay for what they need.
6. Where are They Located and What’s Their Skill Level?
Nothing’s worse than trying to reach someone about technical difficulties when you’re having technical difficulties. Your IT service provider should be available via phone and via in-person visits. It becomes even more frustrating when the support team doesn’t know how to resolve your issue. When searching for your next IT provider, we recommend you look at the following:
- How close are they located to your business? Would they be willing to travel?
- What’s their expertise level? Are you working with interns or experienced specialists?
When push comes to shove, experience matters. And even in today’s totally digital world, it pays to have people who can provide in-person assistance.
7. Do They Offer 24-7 Customer Service?
Despite our wishes, devices and applications still break outside the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Imagine this: you’re working on a deadline, making lots of headway and continue working past 5 p.m. — then your application breaks. Now what?
You need an IT provider who can help you meet your deadline and take you across the finish line. At EAG 1Source, we offer 24-7 support to clients who need us most. NYC may be the city that never sleeps, but IT support should always answer the phone regardless of where you are, whether that’s rural Texas or Houston metro.
8. How Knowledgeable Are They About Your Industry?
Sometimes, the difference between a good IT manager and a great IT manager is the knowledge they possess about your particular industry. As IT professionals who specialize in oil and gas, we know firsthand the nuances and complexities of the IT infrastructure required to run an energy company.
You should find an IT provider that knows your industry inside and out. Not only can IT service providers in your industry be more effective at their jobs, but they can also guide your company in the right digital direction through upgrades, maintenance and support.