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Anytime you have limited resources, it’s crucial that you fully utilize all of the options available to your business. Today’s IT departments are overworked and overstressed, a combination that can result in missed opportunities and frustrated business users. This balancing act has encouraged many organizations to turn to IT managed services companies to provide the day-to-day support and project management needed to supplement IT resources. How can you be sure that the technology solutions provider will be a good fit with your team and be able to support your business strategies? Use these questions as a starting point for your discovery process when you’re looking for managed IT service companies in Washington, DC.
While it may feel like you should be starting with their technical chops, ensuring that the organization you select fits in well with your culture will help ensure the success of your technology projects. Change management is a very delicate issue and one that requires compassionate individuals who understand when to push a point — and when to let it drop for the sake of a relationship.
1. Are you comfortable making recommendations that may not be immediately accepted, with the understanding that not all options can be approved at once?
2. What is your process for overcoming resistance to change within an organization?
3. Do your teams work better in a highly structured manner or are they okay with moving a little more slowly?
4. What is your recommendation for managing tight deadlines? Do you prefer to push forward and do the best you can, or return to leadership with a revised timeline for review?
5. Will the individuals who come on the sales call be the same people that will be working with us long-term — from project managers to technical staff? (Note: If not, they should be!)
These questions may help you determine if your philosophies towards project management and business will mesh well together. As you can see, there are no right or wrong answers, just conversations to get you closer to finding a match!
Consultants can be found anywhere, but finding a true partner for your business requires care and attention on both sides of the relationship. A partner is someone who is constantly looking out for your needs and best interests and making proactive recommendations that will fit your business needs — even if it doesn’t mean immediate revenue for the agency. A consultant may also provide valuable advice, but the relationship is subtly different. Consultants may be brought in to provide you with answers to a specific question or complete a task, as opposed to forming a longer-term relationship with your business.
6. What is your current retention rate for customers? Please name three customers whose relationships you value greatly, and how long you’ve been working with them.
7. Does your organization schedule regular (quarterly/bi-annual/annual) reviews with each customer? If so, what do you cover during that review period?
8. What is the process for replacing individuals who are assigned to the core support team for my business? (Note: If there’s not one in place, be wary!)
Presumably, you’re only vetting potential managed IT service companies in Washington DC that you already know are working with the technology that will support your business needs. What you’re trying to determine here is whether the potential service provider has the partnerships in place that will help them be responsive to your business needs. Finding an IT managed services provider with deep vendor relationships can offer exceptional benefits for your business.
9. What is your level of engagement with primary partners such as Microsoft, Cisco and Amazon?
10. What is your primary project management software, and is your team open to using our PM software of choice?
11. How many engineers or technicians do you have to support each of our key software platforms?
12. What is your level of process automation for repetitive tasks?
With these questions, you’re determining their bench strength and whether they’re able to make efficient use of the time that will be billed to your business.
An acceptable level of service can mean different things to different businesses. For some organizations, a response time of 2 hours for a critical problem is perfectly acceptable — while others need problems resolved in a matter of minutes on a regular basis or their business will suffer significant setbacks. You want to find a managed IT service company whose approach to availability is a fit both in terms of price and service level agreements.
13. What is the standard response time for phone, chat or web-based requests at all levels of severity?
14. What is the escalation process, and how quickly can it be triggered? Are there restrictions on escalation?
15. Is your service truly 24/7/365 or are there blackout periods such as Christmas or Thanksgiving?
16. What is included in the price you’re quoting, and what is specifically excluded?
17. Is your business able to scale to support our growing needs in the future?
Working with an IT managed services company can provide your internal teams with space and time that they need to be successful, but it can also serve to hide any underlying issues from leadership. Be sure that your partner is willing to bring opportunities for growth and learning to your attention — just as willing as they are to bring wins to light. It’s only by uncovering the inefficiencies that your business will truly be able to thrive. At NT Connections, we’ve been working with organizations in the Washington, DC area and providing the proactive recommendations and high level of service that you would expect from a true business partner. Contact us today at 703-288-9767 or request your complimentary technical action plan online anytime.