Choosing a computer support or IT company isn’t easy. There are no shortages of horror stories about computer repair “gurus” causing more problems as a result of their inexperience. When carefully considering your options and gathering a solid understanding of the company you want to work with, you can reduce most of these potential problems and hire an IT company who actually has the knowledge and resources to handle the particular needs of your business.

Here are some of the most important questions you should ask when interviewing IT companies to hire for your business:

Do they have vendor specializations and certifications for the hardware and software you have invested in?

For this question, the answer must be “yes.” There’s no point in paying someone to manage your IT services if they aren’t an expert in the systems that you use every day. You may as well pick up a couple how-to books from the local library, and do it yourself. It’s your IT support team’s job to be an expert in your network systems.

Do they have experience working with your business applications?

Do a bit of research and follow up with more specific questions in regards to the applications at hand. It’s very easy for an IT company to tell you they have experience with an application, when the reality may be very different. You’ll need to think about all the applications you and your employees use to operate your business and ask if these applications are something that the IT company can work with. Giving advance notice can also help them during the planning and preparation to work with your company, especially if they have a process for adapting to new technologies- something you’ll want to ask as well.

Do they have industry experience with your type of business?

This question is important because it should immediately let you know whether or not they’re confident in their services. You’ll want to make sure that the IT company is able to predict potential problems based on their experience with similar clients using similar processes or applications. It’s not a requirement that they have previous work within your industry, but they should provide their answer confidently – either way. If the answer is yes, they should also be able to provide specific examples and relevant case studies.

Do they have a solid grasp of the latest technologies?

It’s important that your IT company has a solid grasp on the latest technological innovations. They will become the backbone of your company, supporting your efforts to surpass your competitors. One of the biggest advantages of hiring an IT company is to apply their experience with similar problems in the industry which will provide a progressive benefit to your business operations. Ask for specific examples of how they stay up-to-date and informed in this ever-changing sea of technology, and see if they can show you how they work with these applications to understand their methodology.

Do they send knowledgeable employees to do the work?

A common source of frustration with highly qualified IT companies is that, once hired, they typically send a junior associate in their place to do the work. Conduct an online background check on the company, e.g. Googling their name to see what results come up and checking out their social media pages to make sure there are no obvious indiscretions or red flags.
Do they communicate with you frequently about the work they do?

Our experts caution that many IT companies may have a habit of shrouding their work in secrecy. It’s essential to ask the company to explain the work they will do, the policies and processes they will be recommending and what type of deliverables you will receive during each stage of the process. You should also clarify at the start where your organization plans to be at the end of the arrangement, and how you’re going to measure progress toward that goal.
Do they know how to find your organization’s biggest security risk?

Many companies are too focused on technology and may have a habit of recommending one-size-fits all solutions to security risks. You need to hire a company who understands that security is a risk-based approach and develops policies to enforce a support procedure. Ideally, you shouldn’t even have to ask a company what your biggest risk is, because the IT company should ask if you’ve had a risk assessment performed or offer to provide one as part of their services. The goal of this assessment is to ensure that the IT company develops a security solution customized to suit your unique business needs.

Do they offer to provide training for your employees?

The IT company’s role is to teach the client to fish. Catch a fish, feed him for a day, but teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. By the time the company is done, your business should be self-sufficient, or in a position to be managed with less applied resources. Some companies may not want to educate their clients on how to uphold security measures once their work is done. You also want your employees to be trained on how to uphold and enforce security measures. However, security awareness training for employees can cost extra, and companies often cut corners by not spending the money.
Do they know how to take care of you?

When interviewing your IT company, ask for specific examples of how they can assist in growing your company. Ask for suggestions and pay attention to see if their answer is general run-of-the-mill, or specific to your company’s objectives. Ultimately, it’s important that you trust your gut feeling when hiring an IT company for your business. Always ask for proof of their qualifications and always follow your intuition!