Q1: How quickly do they guarantee to have a technician working on an outage or other problem?
My Answer: Anyone you pay to support your network should give you a written SLA (service level agreement) that outlines exactly how IT issues get resolved and in what time frame. I would also request that they reveal what their average resolution time has been with current clients over the last 3-6 months.
They should also answer their phones live from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and provide you with an emergency after-hours number they may call if a problem arises, including weekends.
If you cannot access your network because the Internet is down or due to some other problem, you can’t be waiting around for hours for someone to call you back OR (more importantly) start working on resolving the issue. Make sure you get this in writing; often cheaper or less experienced consultants won’t have this or will try and convince you it’s not important or that they can’t do this. Don’t buy that excuse! They are in the business of providing IT support so they should have some guarantees or standards around this they share with you.
Q2: What’s your plan for transitioning our network to the cloud to minimize problems and downtime?
My Answer: Make sure that they run a simultaneous cloud environment during the transition and don’t “turn off” the old network until everyone is 100% confident that everything has been transitioned and is working effortlessly. You don’t want someone to switch overnight without setting up a test environment first.
Q3: Where will your data be stored?
My Answer: You should receive full documentation about where your data is, how it’s being secured and backed up and how you could get access to it if necessary WITHOUT going through your provider. Essentially, you don’t want your cloud provider to be able to hold your data (and your company) hostage.
Q4: How will your data be secured and backed up?
My Answer: If they tell you that your data will be stored in their own co-lo (Colocation) in the back of their office, what happens if THEY get destroyed by a fire, flood or other disaster? What are they doing to secure the office and access? Are they backing it up somewhere else? Make sure they are SAS 70 certified and have a failover plan in place to ensure continuous service in the event that their location goes down. If they are building on another platform, you still want to find out where your data is and how it’s being backed up.
Q5: Do they take the time to explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms that you can understand (not geek speak), or do they come across arrogant and make you feel stupid for asking simple questions?
My Answer: Our system analysts are trained to have the “heart of a teacher” and will take time to answer your questions and explain everything in simple terms. On top of that, we have trainers on staff who specialize in teaching clients of all skill levels how to properly use the cloud and applications.
Q6: Do they have adequate errors and omissions insurance as well as workers’ compensation insurance to protect YOU?
My Answer: Here’s something to consider: if THEY cause a problem with your network that causes you to be down for hours or days or to lose data, who’s responsible? Here’s another question to consider: if one of their technicians gets hurt at your office, who’s paying? In this litigious society we live in, you better make darn sure that whomever you hire is adequately insured with both errors and omissions insurance AND workers’ compensation – and don’t be shy about asking to see their latest insurance policies!
True Story: A few years ago Geek Squad was slapped with multi-million dollar lawsuits from customers for the bad behavior of their technicians. In some cases, their techs where accessing, copying and distributing personal information they gained access to on customers’ PCs and laptops brought in for repairs. In other cases, they lost clients’ laptops (and subsequently all the data on them) and tried to cover it up. Bottom line: make sure the company you are hiring has proper insurance to protect YOU.
Q7: When something goes wrong with your Internet service, phone systems, printers or other IT services, do they own the problem or do they say “that’s not our problem to fix”?
My Answer: If they’ve moved you to the cloud, they should own the problem for their clients so you don’t have to try and resolve any of these issues on your own – that’s just plain old good service and something many computer guys won’t do.
Q8: Do they have other systems analysts on staff that are familiar with your network in case your regular systems analyst goes on vacation or gets sick?
My Answer: Yes, and since we keep detailed network documentation (basically a blueprint of your computer network) and updates on every client’s account, any of our technicians can pick up where another left off.
Q9: Do they do periodical test restores of your backups to make sure the data is not corrupt and could be restored in the event of a disaster?
My Answer: We can perform a monthly “fire drill” and perform a test restore from backup for our clients to make sure their data CAN be recovered in the event of an emergency. If there’s a problem, we notify our clients immediately and start working to resolve it the same day. After all, the WORST time to “test” a backup is when you desperately need it.
Q10: Is their help-desk US-based or outsourced to an overseas firm or third party?
My Answer: We provide our own in-house help desk and make sure the folks helping you are friendly and helpful. We consider this one of the most important aspects of customer service, plus we feel it’s an important step in keeping your data secure.
Q11: Do their technicians maintain current vendor certifications and participate in on-going training – or are they learning on your dime?
My Answer: Our technicians keep the most up-to-date vendor certifications in the technology we support. We maintain high-level certifications for all of our major vendors. Plus, our hiring process is so stringent that 99% of the technicians who apply don’t make it through. (Guess who’s hiring them?)
Q12: Are they familiar with (and can they support) your unique line of business applications?
My Answer: We own the problems with all line-of-business applications for our clients. That doesn’t mean we can fix faulty software – but we WILL be the liaison between you and your vendor to resolve problems you are having and make sure these applications work smoothly for you instead of pointing fingers and putting you in the middle.
Feel free to Contact Us with questions!