By Amir Hashmi, CEO and founder of zsah managed-IT services discusses how a growing business can choose their perfect solutions partner
While every company has the commercial compulsions to grow, most are often in the unenviable position of having to scale, i.e., increasing revenue without incurring high costs. How good organisations are at scaling their business impacts everything, from attracting talent to securing future funding.
Hiring an IT and technology partner is one of the best ways to let you focus on company growth, but your choice should be based on your goals and needs. Examples of technology partners include cloud hosting partners, managed IT service providers, cybersecurity partners, managed application hosting providers and many more.
So, how could you choose the perfect IT and technology partner?
Your first consideration should be the infrastructure design. For example, if you are looking for a cloud hosting partner, you need to consider their managed cloud setup elements. Where are the data centres for their solution located? This information is vital because of compliance with data laws such as the EU’s GDPR. You also don’t want to work with a partner who relies on data centres located in areas prone to natural disasters and other perils.
You may also want to make sure that the cloud infrastructure includes high-performance servers that meet your needs. Infrastructure security is also of paramount concern, and your partner should implement three security levels to control user access and prevent data loss.
Service Level Agreement
The next thing you want to consider is the Service Level Agreement (SLA).
This document spells out the relationship expectations with your IT and technology partner. Some of the items captured include the type of service and how it is delivered, billing and payment terms, uptime guarantee, what happens in service downtime or contractual failure, and other terms and conditions.
Backups, Business Continuity, and Disaster Recovery Plans
You also need to be concerned about backups of critical components. Specifically, you want to know how and where the backup is stored and the regularity of performing backups. For example, a professional managed IT services partner would typically follow a 3-2-1 approach where three (3) copies of your data are on two (2) different storage media with at least one (1) located off-site. You also want to know how long backups are kept.
Also, find out the disaster recovery and business continuity plan of your IT and technology partner. Many businesses today rely on data to operate and gain a competitive advantage. The loss of data through a natural calamity would bring most companies to their knees.
What is the technology partner’s data replication policy? How would they rebuild your environment after a disaster so that business continues? These are critical questions you must ask.
Support Response Time
The next issue to consider is the support response time. A managed cloud partner, IT services provider, or any other technology partner is an extension of your IT department. You must be able to access them as quickly as if they were a member of your team.
Are they available 24/7? And what exactly does that mean? If you place a call or support request in the middle of the night, will you be able to speak to a human being, or will you have to leave a voice message and wait for a callback? You also want to know if the technology partner provides multiple communication methods such as a phone, webchat, mobile app chats, email, and social media.
Pricing can be a murky area to navigate. Make it a point to understand your technology partner’s pricing policies to know what you are paying for and see when you will incur additional charges. Also, concerning pricing, the cost of an IT service is rarely a good indicator of quality. Never be lured by low prices; the best measure is the value for money test.
Your IT and technology partner must be willing to gain a deep understanding of your business’s operational areas and configure a solution to meet your unique requirements.
If your needs are unique, complicated, or process-heavy, you want a partner to configure an environment that supports your business.
Experience, Expertise, and Professional Credentials
Finally, your IT and technology partner must have the experience, technical skills, and professional credentials you need. They must have experience in engineering IT platforms tuned to specific technology offerings and verticals. Choosing an established managed-IT partner trusted by customers across all industries means you can be safe in knowing that solutions can be translated across any sector and industry.
Check out the customer reviews for the opinions of others and conduct your due diligence using search engines and primary sources of information. Perhaps most importantly, remember that the desired technology partner should be an extension of your team – and therefore, both of you must suit each other.