Today, there seems to be as many different types of businesses offering as many different products and services as there are grains of sand at the beach. Yet, no matter how wide the varieties of businesses, almost all of them share one thing in common—they use Information Technology (IT). For some businesses, IT may play a small role and require minimal effort to set up and maintain. For others, IT may include a sophisticated network of interconnected systems and applications that collectively serve as the very lifeblood of the organization—and probably require much more effort to design and manage. Of course, most business’ IT needs fall somewhere in between these two extremes. The point is, there are very few businesses that don’t use some level of Information Technology.
Because the need for IT is practically universal across businesses and industries, the demand for IT providers is very high. Consequently, there are new IT providers popping up every day. And just like in any industry, there are some really good IT providers, and some not-so-good IT providers available to Wilmington businesses. I’m going to share some things to look for when choosing a new IT provider, to help ensure that your choice is a smart one.
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” in IT
As I mentioned previously, no two businesses are the same, and today the availability of IT options are so flexible, they can be highly customized and tailored to an exact fit for any business. So, if a provider tries to tell you their solution is “cookie-cutter” or that “one-size-fits-all”, move on to the next option.
Are they asking the right questions?
Imagine an actual tailor altering your clothes without asking you to try them on and without taking any measurements. Similarly, before an IT provider can recommend a tailored solution for your business, they had better understand your business. Any good IT provider will meet with you and take a proactive approach to understanding your business, not only from a technical perspective, but also in terms of your operations and workflow. Here are just a few of the questions they should be asking you before ever trying to recommend or sell you anything:
• Tell me about your business’ workflow, including: acquiring new customers, product or service delivery and fulfillment, ongoing customer communications, measurements and quality control, remote accessibility, etc.
• Define your various departments, their roles, and how they interact with each other, systems and data.
• What are your operational pain points—are there currently any breakdowns, inefficiencies or bottlenecks that technology could potentially fix?
• What do you want from technology?
• What are your expectations in terms of speed and response times?
• What is your disaster recovery plan? Business continuity plan?
• What is your short-term budget for development and your long-term budget for managing and updating your solution?
There are many more questions that need to be asked based on the type, size and objectives of your business, but if a prospective IT provider isn’t asking these basic questions to learn about your business and your needs, move on to the next option. The main point here is that right from the start you want your IT provider to take a consultative approach rather than a hard sell approach. Ultimately, you want your IT provider to align with your business objectives, and that’s impossible without a clear and thorough understanding of the inner workings of your business and operations.
Choosing the right IT provider for your business is an important topic with a lot of information to cover. In this article, we’ve really just scraped the surface by looking at some initial indicators that can help you determine if prospective IT providers are just in it for the quick sale, or if they are sincerely interested in partnering with you to implement and mange a high-quality IT solution that fits your needs. I’m going to write a follow up article that takes this topic one step to further to examine ways you can tell if an IT partner is likely to be an attentive and effective long-term partner that can serve your needs for years to come.
Shaun Olsen is the CEO and President of CloudWyze. CloudWyze was created to help businesses focus and perform at their optimal level by crafting and executing custom technology plans for businesses of every type and size. To learn more about CloudWyze, visit www.cloudwyze.com. Shaun can be reached at [email protected] or 910-795-1000.
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