If you’re considering working with an IT service provider in the Boston area, the possibilities may seem overwhelming. There are service providers of all sorts - huge companies that work with other huge companies, mid-sized organizations that specialize in specific services or industries, one-man shops that work with other micro-businesses, and everything in between. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be difficult to narrow down your list of prospective vendors. Plus, it would take too much time to meet with all of them. So, what can you do?
When you’re on the hunt for an IT service provider in Boston, here’s how you can narrow down your list so you can make the best choice for your organization.
Evaluating The Different IT Services In Boston Tip #1 : Make a List of Your Needs
This may seem like a fairly obvious first step, but it’s one that some organizations skip. When you’re hunting for your IT partner, the first thing you should do is gather your leadership team of decision-makers and department heads to sit down and make a list of all their business needs. Here’s why.
Oftentimes, there are details of a department that can get diluted by the time they reach the c-level, such as the fact that the marketing departments needs a special type of software or operating system to complete their projects, or the HR department requires a certain amount of data encryption to be in compliance with various state, federal, and/or industry regulations.
It will also be important to know what amount of downtime is reasonably acceptable to various departments. For example, your marketing department might still be operational for a day or two, but customer service will bear the brunt of inundated downtime, even if it’s just a few hours.
Once you know what your business needs, you can start whittling the vendor list down to organizations that - at first pass - have the ability to support your most important requirements.
Evaluating The Different IT Services In Boston Tip #2 :Do Your Research
Now that you know what you need, it’s time to start looking at what prospective vendors can actually do. For example, if your marketing department uses Mac computers (and that isn’t likely to change anytime in the near future) while the rest of the organization uses Windows, you’ll want to make sure you’re only speaking with vendors that can support both operating systems.
You can also break down the list further by narrowing down the geographic location of various vendors. Then, examine the services they provide that are top-tier priorities to your organization.
Massachusetts is a fairly small state in the grand scheme of things, but it may be important to you that your vendor can get to your organization’s location fairly quickly. If they’re located in Downtown Boston and your office is located just outside the city, the time of day could make that a longer commute than you’re comfortable with in an IT emergency.
Similarly, take a look at their hours of operation. Do they provide emergency service at nights and on weekends? What about on holidays? For some organizations, it might be fine if a server goes down for a couple of hours overnight, while for others that could create huge problems. So make sure the vendors you’re considering can meet your basic needs.
Evaluating The Different IT Services In Boston Tip #3 :Ask the Right Questions
Sure, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. But there are some questions that hold more weight than others in certain situations. Here’s what we mean.
When you’re speaking with your potential IT service provider, ask them questions that are pertinent to your business. For example:
- Do they have experience in your industry and dealing with any regulations that you may be bound to comply with?
- Do they currently service organizations that are similar in size to yours?
- Are they currently working with any of your competitors, or have they in the past?
- Do they require their consulting staff to maintain any certifications or attend additional training?
The answers to these questions can provide you with a lot of insight into whether or not they’ll be able to successfully service your business.
With all of that said, remember to follow your intuition. Of course, budget is most likely going to factor into your decision in one way or another, but don’t go with the least expensive option just to save a few pennies if you have doubt or - conversely - go with the most expensive option just because you assume their price point must mean they’re “the best.” Do your due diligence and make sure that they’re truly the right organization for your company’s needs.
Are you interested in learning more about working with an IT service provider in Boston? Check out our eBook What To Expect When You’re Expecting IT and get some insight into what the first six months of a successful IT vendor relationship should look like.