With the ever-changing world of technology in these times, it’s critical for small businesses to find a trusted IT partner that can weed through the alphabet soup and help to make sound business decisions. Here are three critical factors in finding an IT partner that will make sense for you.
1. Know Yourself
The first step is to define your expectations. Are you looking for someone to assist with IT budget planning and operational considerations, or simply someone to press “next” when you don’t have the time? Many IT companies have a vast skill set and can assist with planning at a CIO/CTO level, through to an out-sourced help desk. Understanding what your company needs will go a long way in determining which IT firm will best fit the bill. Here are some questions that may help:
• Do I have a set of corporate IT policies that help govern the care, feeding and security of my business’s technology needs?
• Have I identified an internal super-user, who is the “go-to” person when things go awry?
• Does the company do any annual IT budgeting and planning?
• Do I simply feel lost when it comes to my technology?
2. Know Your Industry
Secondly, find an IT group that not only understands technology, but how technology applies to your specific industry. New software, and ways of interfacing with this software, is being developed at break-neck pace for all industries. You want a partner that knows the IT trends and future plans for your industry. For example, if you’re in healthcare you want to find a group that not only knows the varying technologies and EHR software that you are using, but understands the impact of the HITECH Act and Meaningful Use, and how it will impact your medical practice.
In addition, having an IT partner that understands any regulatory requirements your industry may be under will help with compliance and security concerns.
3. Know Your Partner
Third, you want a partner that you can trust. An outsourced IT group can potentially hold the keys to your entire organization. Be sure you find a partner that is proven with very good references and a track record for integrity and being trustworthy. You want to know that you can hold them accountable for caring for your technology, and that they will be responsive to your needs.
There are many additional factors to consider: cost, location, contract terms, etc.; but these first three are a great place to start.