In this digital age, it’s virtually impossible for a business to be successful without a reliable IT system. It doesn’t matter what industry your company is in, or whether you have 5 or 500 employees. From point-of-sale systems to encrypted servers for proprietary information, or just payroll software and cloud-based backups, everyone needs dependable technology. That said, tech is obviously not a one-size-fits-all product, and what works for a retailer may not work for an accounting firm. Here are five questions you should ask to determine if an IT system is the right fit for your business.
Is it Easy to Use?
First and foremost, you need comprehensive IT services that your staff will be able to work with. This sounds obvious, but sometimes hardware designers and software and code writers don’t keep the end-user in mind when building their products. Consider honestly how tech savvy your staff is when evaluating IT system options. A slight learning curve or a reasonable amount of training is okay, but it doesn’t matter how powerful a system is if the interface and functions go over the head of the people who will use it!
Is the Provider Blindly Pitching Software or Hardware?
It’s important to be sure that your potential IT contractor is truly recommending the best setup for you, not just one they’ve been paid to push. IT pros have favorite and preferred brands just like everyone else, of course, but you need to make sure they have your needs in mind above their financial interests. It’s fair to ask if they have any official ties to, or relationships with, hardware and software vendors. If the answer is “yes,” then it’s up to you whether this is a deal-breaker or not. At the very least, plan to do your homework and research the products they’re selling you.
Is it Upgradable?
An IT network is one of (if not the) biggest investments a business will make. If you are just starting out, or making a change after a long time, you must ask yourself if you’re willing to do this and spend the money again any time soon. If the answer is “no,” then you need to invest in a system that is designed to receive upgrades and roll with technological changes over at least the next 5-10 years.
Is it Secure?
Few things are more important for a business IT network than security. Think about all the data you will be storing there, and what would happen if it were stolen! Private information about your employees including contact info a social security numbers for pay roll. Names of clients, possibly with stored payment info. Proprietary programs and best practices. The list goes on, all with nightmarish implications. It’s crucial that your IT system includes deep encryption, and up-date anti-virus software that can be easily upgraded. Be particularly discerning when it comes to malware and ransomware protection, where cyber-thieves can hold your information hostage for cryptocurrency. Make sure your staff goes through some sort of cyber-security training and knows what to do if they spot a threat while working.
Will You Get the Level of Support You Need?
Let’s say you’ve got your dream network set up, everyone is trained, and the installers have packed up and headed home. Great! Now, what happens a little while down the road when you run into a problem? Is there a tech support hotline you can call? Can you chat live with a technician via instant message? Is there a repair ticket system? Ask these questions, as well as how long your service contract will last.
Most IT systems are very good. You just need to find the one that is perfect for your business. What’s perfect for you may not be perfect for anyone else, so these questions will help get you on the same page with your provider and get you exactly what you need.