29 Jan 5 Suggestions for Selecting an IT Vendor
In our mid-sized IT firm, I’m one half of a two person ownership team. I’m not the techie one. While not a complete novice, my utilitarian computer knowledge has helped us to develop an approach to IT management that may help you work with your next IT vendor.
1. Look for Great Communicators
Look for IT teams that communicate in ways that empower you. Does the firm provide helpful information that makes you feel confident in your choices? Everything should make sense to you. Sales materials, proposals, basic technical explanations. All should be approachable to a business person.
2. What’s the Plan?
Will the IT firm help you develop, implement and potentially revise your IT strategy over the long term? Proactive, effective IT support follows a strategy, both on a day-to-day basis and long term. Does the vendor offer assessments and regular business reviews? Find one that does.
3. Change is Good – Trust your Team
It’s easy to assume that the average small business network is timeless. It works, right? Wrong. Even the most basic of office networks must adapt to daily changes in IT. Some new virus, hack or technical innovation requires an adjustment. Your IT team should identify and address new issues and threats to the benefit of the company. They are the experts. Look for IT support whose recommendations you will trust.
4. Practice Patience
For the non-technical, the hardest part is understanding there may not be an instant fix. The best technical teams may not have an immediate answer. Patience is great – but so are results. Ask for milestones and check-ins to be ensure that issues are being researched and a solution identified.
5. Mistakes Happen: Be a Strong Collaborator
While you never want mistakes to happen, they do. No IT firm is perfect. No person is infallible. Collaboration is essential in a successful IT relationship. The willingness to share in both the successes and the failures is essential. Ask your IT firm how they manage mistakes. Do they accept responsibility if the error is of their making? Then, ask yourself: Are we willing to accept responsibility for your actions? Are we willing to work with a firm, rather than have it work for us?
6. It’s okay to say no.
This is the toughest lesson, and one I’m still learning. It is okay to say no. If the potential business relationship does not meet all your parameters, walk away. Deadlines and emergencies are no reason to enter into a relationship that doesn’t work. On the flip side, have respect for the IT firm that says to you “we are not a fit.” Strong, trustworthy firms will tell you if the relationship isn’t working and help you to move on to a place where your needs are met.
Building a successful relationship with an IT firm is an ongoing process built on trust. Great communication and collaboration are essential. Take the time to evaluate your IT team using some of these suggestions.