Hiring an IT Support company? 5 Rules to know before interviewing

by Wally Moore

on March 24, 2014

in blog

This is the third post from our Business Advisory Guide entitled “What Every Business Owner Must Know About Hiring an Honest and Competent, Responsive and Fairly Priced Computer Consultant.”  We wrote this guide to help business owners who have to outsource the maintenance of their computers.

In our last post we issued this warning: Buyer Beware: The Computer Repair and Consulting Industry Is NOT Regulated.

In this post we’re sharing:

5 Rules you need to know before hiring an IT Support company

RULE #1 - Usually, technology is not the problem

Most of the hardware and software that a business uses will work (to some degree or other) because they’re designed and manufactured to comply and meet the IT industry “best standards.” This means that just about anything you purchase will work. That’s why IT professionals don’t usually complain about technology, at least not in the same way they complain about clients.

When I hear IT professionals complain (and they do) they will most likely complain that the client is unreasonable and asking for something that’s impossible. And when I hear clients complain (and they do too) they will most likely complain that their IT company doesn’t listen to them, talks over their head in technical terms, or does not resolve their computing problems.

RULE #2 – The success of your network depends upon the success of your relationship

Everything is based upon the relationship with your IT professional.

This means they should honor your relationship before making money. Honesty, reliability and loyalty will nurture a good relationship with you and new business will naturally flow from that relationship. Your IT professional should provide you with an honest evaluation about your network and anything you want to do; they should not sell you anything. They should educate you about the issues you have and explain your options so you can make the best business decision for your company.

RULE #3 – Money alone will not resolve your computing problems, it’s not that simple

Whether it is hardware or software, money cannot be thrown at a network to resolve a problem. To remain competitive, new hardware and software will always be required; that’s the nature of technology. But before any action is taken the problem or task must first be understood by you and defined. Once that is complete, your IT professional can define the Project Scope, and Budget and Timing will be estimated. But this process is not easy. It requires conversation and thought, suggestions and agreement, business skill and technical expertise.

RULE #4 – Not all IT professionals are equal

Technical expertise is extremely important. So from time to time we hear the comment that says something like, “Well their guy is an MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) but he couldn’t figure it out.” Another one we’ve heard is, “Well, we’re not going to let anyone manage our network unless they’re a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.”

Some thoughts on technical certifications . . .

I was a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Administrator) back in the day, but that certification was just a certification. At that time I did not have much real world experience in the administration of computer networks. I studied, took the exam and passed. But trust me when I say that you would not want me to have managed your network at that time.

Since our business is computer networks, from time to time we are called in to fix network problems that “certified” companies have missed, or charged for and ignored. And we have been hired to support networks that had previously been managed by “certified” companies.  But before we do anything on a network, we perform a Network Evaluation which assesses the health of the network. On more than one occasion our written Network Evaluation proved to our prospective client that they were not getting what they paid for. I know . . . it sounds like a sales pitch. But it’s also the truth and we have proved that to our prospective clients.

If you are considering hiring a company to manage your network and they are honest, meet multiple requirements, are competent, responsive, fairly priced AND they also happen to have some certifications then by all means give them serious consideration! But if they tout their certifications and do NOT meet other (and in my opinion) more important requirements, you should keep looking.

There are many good and reputable IT companies that do not rise to certain levels of certifications, simply because their smaller size, lack of sales volume and budget prevents them from doing so. That is they simply do not meet the prerequisites set by Microsoft or other vendors. But they consistently perform excellent work and have numerous clients who will refer them.

RULE #5 – Your engineering guy, office manager or next door neighbor can’t take care of your network

If the person you have working on your network does not do computer support full time, for a living, there is a good chance they won’t have the knowledge or experience to truly help you. Do you really want a part-time, inexperienced (but well intentioned) person taking care of something as important as your network and company data?

You can professionally maintain each computer on your network for about $1.00 a day.  They will be maintained consistently and methodically to IT industry “best practices” standards, and not by someone who is trying to do the best they can, without the experience it takes.

In our next post we’ll talk about: 20 Questions You Should Ask Your Computer Consultant Before Hiring Them to Support Your Network

 If you want to skip this blog and just read the guide, Download the Business Advisory Guide Here. If you’re not ready to do that, then just read these posts when they come out. When you're done, you'll know what questions to ask. And the answers will show you the computer consultant most qualified to help you.

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Dedicated to your success,

Wally Moore

DTS InfoTech . . . computer networks that work