In this age of hurried choices and quick-fix decisions having to be made by business executives and department heads — we sometimes need to stop and re-evaluate our position. We need to know what exactly it is we want and need — and how to get it. In that spirit of getting better information technology management, we present 10 key questions to ask your current or prospective IT company in the Toronto ON area.
- Are you adept at working with others?
It’s important to be sure that the team of IT professionals you hire consists of folks who can easily, clearly and patiently communicate with your employees when tempers flare over technology that won’t cooperate or simple user errors.
To get a feel for your prospective tech support team’s communication style, ask them to walk you through a tech mess they untangled for someone else. Or, role-play with them through a common help desk request, e.g. the forgotten password or, worse, a frozen computer. Keep your eyes open for candidates who speak in terms your employees can quickly understand, not jargon-packed tech-geek speak.
- What’s your process for handling tech support requests?
Overseeing a company’s tech support help desk must be orderly, efficient and relatively fast. Your perspective (or current) IT company candidate should demonstrate that they have an effective help desk structure and workflow in place. How specifically would he or she field, log and respond to subscriber requests for help? By phone, email, or instant message?
- What occupies your time when you’re not answering help desk support requests?
It’s important to vet-out IT support candidates who don’t seem willing to step up and take on non-help desk-related bigger picture projects. They should be busy all the time, not consumed with social media or watching YouTube videos all day long between help desk tickets.
Other tasks your prospective IT company candidate should be game for include: ongoing computer and other device setup and maintenance (configuring, customizing, updating, cleaning, etc.), keeping up with the latest technologies and making employees aware of them, and crafting a long-term (three- to five-year) plan for fulfilling your company’s evolving IT requirements.
Also, if you think additional IT staff will be needed down the road, your IT support firm of choice should be open to recruiting, training and managing new hires.
- Will you perform an assessment of my existing IT systems?
The right IT company should express that they’re prepared and qualified to analyze and report on the functionality and feasibility of your company’s existing IT equipment and systems. This should encompass your computers, landline, VOIP and cell phones, email solutions, printers and “basically anything that plugs into a wall,” says one IT expert.
They should be able to tell you what new software applications for your current computers are needed. What can be updated, improved or removed?
If upgrades are justified, are they capable of sourcing, building a budget for and installing new hardware and software? If not, scratch them off your list of prospective Toronto IT companies.
Founding partners Mike Sugrue and Shael Risman share the philosophies on which they built PACE Technical Services – one of the most innovative and fastest growing IT companies in Greater Toronto.
- What can your IT support company do to cyber-secure my technology?
With smaller companies increasingly coming under attack by cybercriminals, it’s paramount that the candidate you hire can design and deploy a plan to continually secure all of your digital information systems, especially those that house your mission-critical data. A solid strategy should involve rolling out firewalls, spam filters and anti-virus and anti-spyware solutions. They should also perform routine security audits.
If all else fails, what would the candidate do if your site got hacked? It’s highly important to know.
Trust is critical here because your IT person or persons will have full administrative login credentials, likely to the lion’s share of your business’s most sensitive information. To that end, you should absolutely run a criminal background check on potential outsourced IT company hires. You also want to avoid people who say they’re good with computers yet they’ve only watched YouTube how-to’s and hacked their phone.
And, if your business deals with financial transactions of ANY kind, a credit check on your new IT company candidate is definitely in order. “If a candidate can’t take care of their own finances, that could throw up some red flags that they’re looking for a way to take you for a ride.
- What kind of data backup and disaster recovery experience do you have?
This is another biggie. How and where your company’s data is stored and backed up is equally as important as securing it. Unfortunately, though, most small businesses blow off the backup and disaster recovery plans and wait until it’s too late to finally decide they need them.
Don’t let this be you!
If you have the resources for a proper server room, make sure the IT company you’re considering has the skills to design and implement one. For example, do they know how to keep a server room from being compromised? Or how to protect it against natural disasters — including storms, floods, fires, and earthquakes?
Or, if you outsource your data storage to a third-party cloud provider (like Dropbox or Amazon Web Services), as many small businesses do, make sure you understand that they are responsible for backing up and physically securing your cloud data on their end.
- Is your IT support company available after-hours and on weekends?
There’s never a convenient time for a server or a computer to crash. Systems can and do fail outside of regular work hours, so it’s important that your dedicated IT company team is available on-call 24/7, on nights and weekends, or whenever trouble calls. Be crystal clear about this expectation from the get-go, so you don’t hire someone who isn’t OK with this level of commitment.
- What kinds of IT-industry certifications do you have?
Although drive and eagerness to learn are often more valuable than having a four-year college degree and “a ton of certifications,” the big factor in the equation to look for is the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) A+. People who earn this particular certification should have a good understanding of what needs to be done when troubleshooting PCs, with a little bit of hardware in case they need to change a hard drive. Having this type of certification also suggests that they understand basic networking for small businesses.
- What kind of IT infrastructure have you set up or supported during your IT career?
Asking this allows your IT support company candidate to highlight any relevant experiences they’ve previously had (or not) with former employers or clients. Better yet, it can help you weed out potential hires who are just blowing smoke and don’t know what they’re talking about.
For extra-added assurance that the person has the technical experience, they say they have, but you’re not sure, bring a seasoned IT consultant in to sit in on the interview and discuss with you after. So, you don’t get bamboozled by someone who can’t walk their talk.
- What are your salary requirements?
How much money a particular candidate wants depends on a few factors — the job requirements, and their experience, skills, certifications and geographic location. With so many variables at play, it’s best to come right out and ask what their ballpark is and negotiate from there, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
You’ll want to look for a technically skilled, entry-level go-getter so you can save on costs — not for a specialist networking guru with CISCO certifications all the way up and down the table because they’ll cost you an arm and a leg and they’d be overkill for a small business.
[Source credit: Entrepreneur.com]
In light of all that, Pace Technical is the right IT company for businesses who want tech management pros they can grow with.
Our exceptional technical support will help you “keep pace with the competition” and revive your customer management attention, and much more. For a consultation from the right IT company in Toronto ON for the job, please contact a Pace Technical agent at (905) 763-7896, or email us via secure email form today for more information, or if you have any questions to ask us.