How To Find The Right IT Partner For Your Small Business
Written by Ken Gaebler
With so many vendors to choose from, selecting an IT partner can be difficult. An industry insider shares his tips to help streamline your search.
Few small businesses can afford to staff their own IT departments. And even the ones that can often rely on outside vendors for specialized technology assistance. But with the IT services marketplace more crowded than ever, searching for small business IT consultants or IT partners can feel like an exercise in futility.
In a recent Business Journals report, Optimal Networks CEO Heinan Landa offered several tips to help small businesses identify IT partners that work with their companies--not against them. Here's what you need to know:
- Backgrounds Count. It's not uncommon for technology companies to evolve beyond their core skill sets to capture increased market share. As Landa notes, many managed services providers were originally hardware or software companies, and may not have the skills or mindsets to effectively provide managed services offerings. So, investigate the history of potential IT partners to make sure that their background aligns with your needs.
- Experience counts, too. IT is a relatively young industry, making it difficult to find prospective IT partners with decades of experience. Additionally, there are low barriers of entry for IT providers and qualifications vary dramatically. As a small business owner, it's your responsibility to make sure that your IT partner has sufficient experience and qualifications to perform as expected. Talk to the provider's long-term clients to learn more about the company's history and credentials.
- Perform a Site Visit. Although it sounds like common sense, many small businesses never visit the offices of prospective IT partners. But if you don't take the time for a quick office visit, it's impossible to gauge company culture, customer service and other important factors. For all you know, the company could be operating out of the founder's basement!
- Look for Objective Credibility Markers. What the company says about itself isn't nearly as important as objective, external information. External credibility markers, including client references, media recognition and professional memberships can go a long way toward helping you properly evaluate prospective providers.
Whether you know it or not, there's a lot riding on your relationship with your IT partner. By taking the time to properly evaluate candidate vendors, you can significantly improve the quality of your relationship and ensure that your business has the IT expertise it needs for sustainable growth.
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