Five Things you Should Expect from your IT Consultant
If the day-to-day workload of your IT is putting your staff under strain, then it may be time to outsource your IT support. The benefits of hiring an IT consultant or company is that they can help you achieve critical tasks, improve efficiencies and streamline your processes. Regardless of whether your business needs ad-hoc IT support (pay for service) or a comprehensive Managed IT solution (retainer option with fixed prices and hours), there are five things you should expect from your provider.
When choosing an IT consultant, security is one of your first considerations. Find a consultant who has a thorough understanding of security issues and uses the latest end-to-end security technologies. The consultant should know your industry and understand its security compliance requirements. Accounting firms, law firms and professional services organisations need to pay particular attention to their security.
If you want a complete security solution, a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is your best option. An MSP manages and monitors your data management, IT security, backups, data recovery and monitors your devices, network and servers 24/7. With remote help desk support, end-to-end security solutions including firewall and virus protection, WAN/LAN monitoring, scheduled support and a range of other security measures, your data and systems will always be safe. An ad-hoc IT consultant or project-based arrangement may not be able to offer you ongoing security measures.
Expertise and experience
Whether you hire an IT consultant to ease the burden of your current workload, are starting a new project or need assistance in areas which are outside of your in-house expertise, you need a consultant who has the skills and experience that suit your organisation. Does the consultant's technical experience match your needs?
Here are a few questions you should ask:
- Does the company outsource their work overseas and what quality assurance guarantees do they offer?
- Does their work come with a satisfaction guarantee?
- What is their track record of success?
- Has the company worked with clients in your industry?
Unless you have had previous experience working with the consultant, it’s essential that you check their references. To get an accurate view, you can contact the company's former clients, industry peers, professional associations and read online reviews.
Even if the consultant does not have previous experience in your industry, you need to determine whether this experience is essential. Have they completed similar projects? Does the company have the ability to work across a broad range of industries and the flexibility to complete projects of all sizes?
Service Level Agreement
A service level agreement (SLA) helps you manage each other’s expectations. An SLA, by definition, is an agreement and not a contract. It will address issues such as:
- Milestones and targets
- Availability, reliability and response times.
- Data recovery and support turn-around times.
Service Level Agreements are a must for Managed Service Providers, as they are dedicated to the security, uptime, maintenance and future-proofing of your IT systems, network, devices and servers. A contract is essential for a project-based agreement. The contract should address the following areas:
- Duration. When will the agreement take effect and end?
- Roles and responsibilities
- Objectives. What are the results you want?
- How will success be measured? What is the standard that will be applied?
- Scope of the project. Step by step, what tasks and activities will the consultant perform to achieve your objectives?
- List of deliverables. Will the deliverables include a formal presentation, instruction manual or written or oral report?
Communication skills and seeks a partnership
Technical skills and expertise are just one aspect of choosing a suitable IT consultant. Of equal importance is that you find a consultant who has exceptional communication skills and wants to work in partnership with you towards success. Transparency, honesty and an easy to understand approach are qualities that will help you form a collaborative and beneficial relationship.
Good communication skills
Does the IT consultant communicate technical concepts in a way that's easy to understand? The consultant or company should make you feel comfortable to ask questions, seek clarification and discuss concerns. When you ask a question, the consultant should not make you feel silly or like a nuisance.
A good IT company will listen to your needs, offer straightforward and honest advice and tell you how they plan to fix problems. Look for a company who will give you regular and transparent reporting. These reports should be easy to understand and not use complicated IT terms or jargon.
Seeks to build a partnership
The IT Consultant should be interested in forming a partnership and win-win relationship. When developing the proposal, have they included time to work on your site and will they be available to work on your schedule? If the consultant wants you to conform to their schedule, systems and method of doing things, instead of being flexible to suit your needs, then the relationship may not be beneficial in the long-term.
Fixed project fee or hourly rate
A consultant may charge you a fixed hourly or daily rate, estimated fee or fixed project fee. An hourly rate may not give the consultant an incentive to be efficient and also makes it difficult for you to know what the project will cost you. With a fixed cost, you know in advance what the project will cost. You have peace of mind knowing that the consultant won't bill you extra money, should the project go over the allocated budget or time.
The best way to keep your IT running at its best is with an MSP. An MSP is a dedicated tech support team who monitor, secure and manage your devices, networks and servers 24/7. You get peace of mind knowing that they will meet your expectations and there are no gaps in the security and ongoing maintenance of your IT.
Other benefits of an MSP include:
- Failsafe systems that back up your data, with restoration available within 3-15 minutes.
- A proactive instead of a reactive approach. Identifies problems before they shut down your network and systems.
- A dedicated tech support team at hand with prompt remote and onsite support available.
- 100% uptime guarantee and agreed on support turn-around times.
If your MSP is not available for 24/7 support, then you should consider this to be a deal breaker. The right MSP will keep your IT running smoothly and efficiently every minute of every day.
Essential Tech is one of Brisbane's leading IT Support and Managed IT companies. We have a proven track record of supporting businesses of all sizes - from 5 people to 1000+. Ask us about our 90-day satisfaction guarantee and 100% uptime guarantee!
Contact us today on 1800 384 768 or fill out your details to find out how you can get the IT support that you deserve.