It’s the wild west out there. Although there are several independent organizations doing certifications and educational institutions offering degrees in technology, anyone can open up shop here in Wilmington Delaware and declare to the world that they are a computer consultant.
Because your computers hold the digital keys – and the digital footprint – to your entire life and business.
Do you really want some self-proclaimed “expert” to have unfiltered access to your customer data, financial information, passwords, browser history, and proprietary information?
So, how do you sort out the good from the bad and the ugly?
The same way you buy a used car.
Ask LOTS of questions, get recommendations from friends, and get an independent mechanic to put the car on a hoist and tell you everything that’s wrong with it BEFORE you buy.
So, back to IT consultants…
What questions should you ask to separate the companies that could be your dream IT support partner from the duds that just want to patch a system, bill you for an on-site visit, and go home without looking back?
We’ll help you out!
Here’s our 17 point questionnaire.
Question #1 – Will you take ownership of any issue that occurs in my company’s IT systems or will you throw up your hands and say, “It’s not our problem”?
If the company you are talking to begins back-peddling – trying to explain all the things that they WON’T cover – run. You need someone that’s going to stick with you and find a solution to your IT emergencies.
Question #2 – Will you answer my phone calls or do you force your customers to leave voicemail messages or send emails that get looked at when you get around to it?
You need a company with a help desk that is staffed by competent, caring individuals who are on your side – not an answering machine, answering service, or a support email inbox where requests go to die.
Question #3 – How well do you know the unique line of business applications that we use, and will you support them?
Every industry either has specially-built applications to serve their unique workflows or has adapted more general applications – like those in Office 365 – to meet their needs. Having a computer consultant here in Wilmington Delaware that understands how your business works and the technology you use to get things done is essential.
Question #4 – Is your response time backed by a written Service Level Agreement? Or are you just “winging it,” telling people, “We hope to get to your issue soon”?
Professionals put things in writing. Cowboys shoot from the hip and hope to hit a target. That’s the difference. Part of partnering with a professional managed IT services company is that they don’t have “targets” – they have written service level guarantees.
Question #5 – What is your definition of professionalism? Are your technicians prompt? Do they dress business-casual or better? – Or do they look like they just woke up?
Professionalism is all about the details. If the computer consultant isn’t going to show up on time to the appointments he/she sets and if they can’t be bothered with clean, ironed clothing, how do you think they are going to care for your IT system’s security? The details matter.
Question #6 – What kind of people do you hire? Do they come across as arrogant? Do they have a chip on their shoulder – angry with the world? Will they listen to my questions and answer my concerns politely and in a way that I can understand?
You have enough employee challenges of your own from day to day. You don’t need grief from the bad hires of your computer consulting company. If they present themselves with a bad attitude or look down on you and your employees – send them packing.
Question #7 – What is your company’s schedule for continuous learning and educational upgrades for your employees? Do you ensure that your technicians have the most recent vendor certifications?
If you’re looking at a computer consulting team here in Wilmington DE that doesn’t have a focus on continuing education for their employees, look somewhere else. Why? Because if the company doesn’t pay for them to take the training and get the most current certifications, then they are fumbling around on your systems, making mistakes, and learning on your dime.
Question #8 – Do you actively look for ways to make our systems more efficient and our workflow more productive, or do you just wait for things to break so you can fix them and maybe make a suggestion or two along the way?
You should avoid companies that are only interested in fixing stuff that breaks and selling you equipment when your hardware dies. A real IT partner works diligently to give your employees a working environment that is safe, stable, and highly productive.
Question #9 – Where do calls get routed to when I phone your help desk? – Your office? An offshore call center? A domestic third party?
While it’s attractive to IT companies to outsource their IT help desk services to third-party vendors in cheaper labor markets, it often results in a lower level of expert advice and service being delivered to the customer. Find a company that fields all their help desk calls from their offices here in Wilmington Delaware.
Question #10 – Can I see an example of a recent invoice you have sent to a client? – (without the name and contact info, of course)
Why do you want to see an invoice that the prospective computer consulting company has sent? Because you want to see whether they present a detailed invoice that shows exactly what they have done or if they just write down some hours – or worse yet, just a dollar amount – to be paid. A company that is concerned about the details is a company that’s concerned about building trust with you.
Question #11 – If I lose access to my local data and infrastructure due to criminal activity, human error, or natural disaster, do you provide a detailed plan for how you are going to get me up and running at an alternate location fast?
Mature computer consulting companies in the Wilmington Delaware area have thought these things through and have established protocols to ensure that their clients can get back to work quickly if impacted by localized IT outages resulting from unexpected circumstances.
Question #12 – What insurance does your company carry to protect your clients?
There are several coverages that a prospective IT support company should carry for your protection. They are:
- Liability Insurance – If their technician somehow does significant damage to your IT systems or facility, they need to carry the insurance to cover the cost.
- Errors and Omissions Insurance – Even the best IT technician can have a bad day and maybe miss something significant that has a substantial, negative financial impact on your company. Errors and Omissions insurance covers this scenario.
- Worker’s Compensation Insurance – If their employee gets hurt while doing work in your facility, you shouldn’t be on the hook for the cost. Make sure that they have adequate insurance for their workers.
Note: There is nothing wrong with asking for proof of insurance before signing a contract with an IT support company. Due diligence is always a good idea.
Question #13 – Is it necessary to do a full system backup before an upgrade or starting an IT project?
The answer to this question should be “Yes.” There is no need to take chances with your operational data. In fact, many good computer consultants in Wilmington Delaware will tell you that backing up your data to the cloud – even as often as every fifteen minutes – is good policy.
Question #14 – What is your “on time and on budget” guarantee?
While every conceivable scenario cannot be taken into consideration, an IT support company should have a track record of being on time and within budget. They also should have a guarantee – complete with late penalties – in their written project contracts.
Question #15 – Do you have a complete IT care plan that provides absolutely all the IT support our company needs for one monthly fee? Or do you tack on extra fees for extra work?
A true all-you-can-eat IT support option is attractive to company leaders because this IT support strategy puts the computer consulting team on your side and provides a predictable IT expense for budgeting. When a company works for a flat fee, they are incentivized to keep your systems working smoothly to avoid extra labor costs on their end. This scenario results in well-maintained and managed business technology.
Question #16 – Do you offer operational monitoring of our entire IT system?
Everything from security settings to data backup needs to be monitored and verified. Without operational monitoring, small issues can be introduced into your systems, and they can morph into big problems without notice. Monitoring now saves you money down the road.
Question #17 – Is your team big enough – and diverse enough in your training – to care for my immediate and future IT support requirements?
Here’s the question. If the computer consulting firm in Wilmington Delaware you are considering has a staff of only one, who covers for him/her while on vacation? If the team you’re considering doesn’t have a diverse IT background – for example, only knows how to service Windows and hasn’t done much with virtualization – how can they help you when your IT needs become more complex?
Asking these questions can help you avoid partnering with untrained and unprofessional IT cowboys. There’s more to learn. Read this article about who provides reliable computer networking in Wilmington Delaware.